herald

Wednesday 29 January 2020

Healy-Raes avoid prison over attack on tourist who objected to queue-jumping

Kevin (left) and Jackie Healy-Rae arriving at Kenmare District Court, Co Kerry, yesterday
Kevin (left) and Jackie Healy-Rae arriving at Kenmare District Court, Co Kerry, yesterday

A tourist who was punched in the face several times in an incident involving two of TD Michael Healy-Rae's sons in Kenmare, Co Kerry, has said he considered cancelling his wedding following the assault.

English visitor Kieran James said many aspects of his life have changed "to the detriment" in the wake of the incident over Christmas 2017.

Jackie Healy-Rae (24), who was elected to the council this year and is a member of the Joint Policing Committee (JPC), received an eight-month suspended sentence for assault causing harm to Mr James.

Enforcer

He was described by Judge David Waters as the "enforcer" in the argument which began over queue jumping at a chip van in Kenmare, Co Kerry, on December 28.

His brother Kevin Healy-Rae (22), who was the first person involved in the row and had sought his brother's assistance, was given a seven-month suspended sentence at Kenmare District Court.

A co-accused of the two brothers, Malachy Scannell (34), received two six-month suspended sentences for assault causing harm on the night.

In sentencing the three men, Judge David Waters said that an aggravating factor in the case was that the group maintained in garda statements and in cross-examination a version of events that was not borne out in the CCTV.

Jackie and Kevin Healy-Rae, of Sandymount, Kilgarvan, were both charged with assault causing harm to Kieran James.

Jackie was charged with assault causing harm to Mr James on two occasions on the night - at East Park Lane and Main Street, Kenmare.

Kevin Healy-Rae was charged with one count of assault causing harm to Mr James, and Malachy Scannell, of Inchinacoosh, Kilgarvan, was charged with assault causing harm to Mr James and to another man, Cornelius 'Neily' O'Sullivan.

Judge Waters said if Jackie Healy-Rae had had previous convictions, he would not have suspended the sentence but given his clean record he would do so. All three had their sentences suspended for one year.

In a victim impact statement, Kieran James said following the assault he had two operations, continues to suffer from headaches, and said both he and his wife Lauren have "reoccurring nightmares".

"From a very young age, every year I looked forward to visiting Kenmare with my family," he said. "The events that night have changed that and now I no longer want to visit the town I loved. I was forced to take several days off work due to injury.

Memories

"My wife and I had planned to get married in Kenmare before that assault happened.

"The attack that night totally changed our feelings for the town and consequently we even considered cancelling our wedding arrangements.

"Although we finally got married in Kenmare as planned, the day was marred by the horrible memories of that night."

Mr James said he was struck twice in the space of a few minutes by the brothers after his wife commented on Kevin Healy-Rae jumping the queue at a chip van in Kenmare Square.

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