herald

Saturday 14 December 2019

Healy-Rae brothers convicted of assault after chip van row

Kevin Healy Rae ( NAVY ) and FRONT Jackie Healy-Rae
Kevin Healy Rae ( NAVY ) and FRONT Jackie Healy-Rae

Two sons of Independent Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae have been convicted of assault causing harm after a dispute with a British tourist over queue jumping at a chip van during the 2017 Christmas festivities.

The convictions came as one son, Kevin Healy-Rae, insisted to investigating gardai that the incident was politically motivated and there are people all over Ireland who hate his family.

Councillor Jackie Healy-Rae Jnr (24), his brother Kevin Healy-Rae (22) and their friend Malachy Scannell (34) denied a series of assault charges arising from disputed events in Kenmare, Co Kerry, on December 28, 2017.

Credibility

All three appeared before Judge Dave Waters at Tralee District Court for a hearing that had been adjourned from Kenmare last September.

Judge Waters convicted the brothers and their friend on all charges.

He said the entire case hinged on witness credibility and key CCTV footage from the AIB branch in Kenmare.

Judge Waters said he found British tourist Kieran James (30) to be "an extremely credible witness" who had "no axe to grind" with the brothers and their friend.

The evidence against the three men was, he said, "quite compelling".

He noted that Jackie Healy-Rae Jnr had the opportunity to take his younger brother, who was intoxicated, away from the scene but did not do so and, instead, became "the third man in".

Judge Waters also noted the CCTV footage which showed the Healy-Rae group charging up the street towards the other group after the initial incident had calmed.

"It was quite clear the three were together in a group running up the street towards the other individuals" where the secondary assaults took place. The group then laughed as they left the scene.

Judge Waters said he was "absolutely satisfied" that the assaults had happened as the State argued.

He convicted the trio on all counts and remanded them for sentencing on December 6.

A victim impact statement will be delivered by Mr James then.

Defence solicitor Padraig O'Connell confirmed the convictions will now be appealed.

"We accept the judge's decision, but we do not agree with it. We are appealing all convictions," he said.

Mr James, who was in Kenmare visiting Irish cousins, said he was attacked twice in the space of a few minutes by the two brothers after his wife, Lauren, had commented on Kevin Healy-Rae barging to the top of a queue at a chip van in Kenmare Square.

Mr James said the assault, which left him with serious facial injuries including a broken nose, was entirely unprovoked.

He said he had first been placed in a head-lock at the chip van and was later punched in the face in a second assault after his group had tried to leave the area.

Intimidated

When challenged over jumping the queue, several witnesses claimed Kevin Healy-Rae said: "This is my town - and this is my chip van."

None of the three defendants offered direct evidence.

However, Kevin Healy-Rae, in garda statements, insisted he had felt intimidated by Mr James, who he claimed had been staring intently at him as he queued at the chip van.

He later claimed derogatory remarks were passed about his father, TD Michael Healy-Rae.

"I believe it all started due to my family's political background," he told gardai.

"There are people all over the country who hate our family. You just smile and walk away."

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