Tralee Circuit Court has been told that a county councillor choked and punched a man in Kenmare in 2017.
Councillor Jackie Healy-Rae and Kevin Healy-Rae, both of Sandymount, Kilgarvan, and Malachy Scannell, of Inchinacoosh, Kilgarvan, all received suspended jail sentences for assaulting a UK visitor to Kenmare, outside a chip van.
All three have been in the process of appealing their convictions since 2019, but the court today heard that Kevin Healy-Rae and Malachy Scannell were withdrawing their appeals.
The hearing of Jackie Healy-Rae’s appeal came before Tralee Circuit Court today.
Jackie and Kevin Healy-Rae, and Malachy Scannell, were convicted of assaulting Kieran James in the early hours of the 28th December 2017, at two separate locations in Kenmare town.
Mr James, who grew up and still lives in London, had been in the area as his mother is from Kilgarvan, and he was introducing his then-fiancé Lauren to his extended family in South Kerry.
The couple had been out for dinner and subsequently drinks with members of Mr James’ family, following which it’s alleged Mr James was assaulted by the three men at a chip van on East Park Lane, and then again on Main Street in Kenmare.
During cross examination this afternoon, Mr James told the court that Kevin Healy-Rae had pushed his way to the front of the queue at the chip van and when this was pointed out, became very agitated.
Mr James said at this point Kevin Healy-Rae told him this was his town and his chip van, and walked away to another group of men, who all came back towards the van.
Mr James gave evidence that him and Kevin exchanged pushes, before Jackie Healy-Rae grabbed him in a headlock, and held his arm around Mr James’ neck for about 20-30 seconds, by which point he was struggling to breathe.
Kieran James told the court that the group he was in, which consisted of his relatives, decided to leave the vicinity after he was released from his headlock, but the three men followed this group up Main Street, where the second incident occurred.
He said Jackie Healy-Rae was the first blow to himself, and that he held his hood over his face while Kevin Healy-Rae and Malachy Scannell punched him in the face.
Defending barrister John Berry put it to Mr James that Jackie Healy-Rae was restraining him at the chip van for the same reason people were holding back Kevin Healy-Rae, to prevent escalation.
Mr James replied there’s a difference between holding and assaulting, and that he was assaulted at the chip van by Jackie Healy-Rae.
Mr Berry also put it to Mr James that Jackie Healy-Rae had run up Main Street not to punch him, but to restrain his brother and he was acting as peacemaker, which Mr James vehemently disagreed with.
Mr Berry suggested Jackie Healy-Rae at no stage punched Mr James, to which Mr James replied, “He 100% punched me in the face.”
In her cross-examination, Lauren James, who was Kieran’s then fiancé and now wife, said she was very concerned for him during the headlock and told Jackie Healy-Rae, “You’re going to kill him.”
Regarding the incident on Main Street. Lauren James said Kieran looked unrecognisable after the punches he received, and that Jackie Healy-Rae had not acted in a restraining fashion, as suggested by the defence.
The appeal hearing continues tomorrow.