'Coward's punches' must stop, say family
The family of a young Galway man who died after being punched outside a kebab shop in Australia have pleaded for the "coward's punch" to stop.
Thomas Keaney died after he was hit once on the back of the head by Abbas Al Jrood, an off-duty bouncer, during a row over a chair on December 17, 2013. He died 10 days later.
Mr Al Jrood was convicted of his manslaughter yesterday. He will be sentenced in July.
Mr Keaney' family, including his parents Ann and Tom and siblings Lauren, Leeann and Brian, travelled to Australia for the trial.
Speaking after the trial, Thomas' sister Lauren said they did not want any other family to go through what they had.
"The coward's punch has shattered our lives and we ask everyone to realise the risk in partaking in such actions. We would never want anyone to go through this type of loss.
"Thomas was a great man, he had seen a future for himself here in Australia and it was just an unjustifiable end to such a person.
"This coward's punch has got to stop. The effects of it doesn't just affect one family, it affects two. It tears us apart. It is such a senseless act and I'm sure it has devastating affects on the Al Jrood family as well," she said.
During the trial, jurors heard how the fight had occurred after a chair Al Jrood was using was taken by people in Mr Keaney's group. The off-duty bouncer punched the Irishman in the back of the head, said prosecutor Laura Christian. "He would not have seen it coming," she added.
Mr Keaney fell backwards and hit his head on the ground, causing a severe brain injury.
While he had initially made a good recovery and had even spoken with his family back home, Thomas' condition deteriorated rapidly on Christmas Eve.
His worried parents Ann and Tom had to wait until St Stephen's Day before they could get a flight to Perth. Mr Keaney's friends in Australia travelled back to Perth when his condition deteriorated and remained with him until his parents arrived. The young man's life-support was switched off on December 28.
Mr Keaney had been in Australia for 13 months and had received a second Working Holiday Visa on the day he was assaulted, which would have allowed him to extend his stay.
Al Jrood was remanded in custody until a sentencing hearing on July 20.