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Man dies after punch by home owner 'who feared house was being burgled'

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Niall Carson/PA Wire

(stock photo)

Gardaí are expected to launch a manslaughter investigation after a 49-year-old criminal who suffered catastrophic head injuries in a "one punch" incident died in hospital over the weekend.

The life support machine that was keeping Jason Kearney alive was turned off at the Mater Hospital on Saturday.

He had been in a critical condition since banging his head on the ground when he was punched at a property in Seville Place in the capital's north inner city at 2.50am on Wednesday, September 2.

The Herald previously revealed that the man who punched him called an ambulance to the scene and has co-operated fully with the garda investigation.

Officers are satisfied that he punched Kearney after he was awoken from his sleep and believed that his home was being burgled. The householder has not been arrested, but has been interviewed by gardaí where he gave a full account of the tragic early morning events.

"It was completely random and is very tragic," a senior source told the Herald.

Defending

"The householder, who has never come to the attention of gardaí before, believed the victim was attempting to break into his house and he was defending his property.

"This was one punch that has had catastrophic consequences.

"The householder called the emergency services and ensured that the man was brought to hospital," the source added.

Sources said that it "quickly became apparent" that when Kearney, who was originally from Dundalk, Co Louth, was assessed by medical staff that it was "highly unlikely" he would survive the head injuries.

It is understood that members of his heartbroken extended family have been at the Mater Hospital since he was admitted there.

Kearney, who had also lived in Tallaght in recent years, had major problems with alcohol and drug abuse.

In 2017, Tallaght District Court heard that Kearney had 30 previous convictions, including one for dangerous driving causing death in a high-profile case where he was later sued.

In the 2017 case, the court heard that Kearney was found driving while disqualified after he was involved in a minor traffic accident.

Kearney had had one pint and was over the drink-driving limit.

Judge John Lindsay disqualified Kearney from driving for 15 years and ordered him to complete 240 hours of community service in lieu of three months in prison.

He admitted drink-driving as well as driving without insurance or a driving licence in Tallaght last November 20.

In 2012, Kearney was given a one-and-a-half year jail sentence for his part in an armed robbery at a local bookmakers after which gardaí arrested the raiders almost straight away.