Wednesday 28 September 2016

'I thought I was going to jail' – Male model on nightclub brawl nightmare that left man with broken jaw

Cathal McMahon

Published 19/09/2016 | 19:12

Shane Kirkwood and son Kingsley
Shane Kirkwood and son Kingsley

A Dublin model who became an internet sensation after he was described as 'The Definition of a Daddy' has told how he feared missing the birth of his son while he stood trial for a serious assault.

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Marks and Spencer worker Shane Kirkwood (26) was catapulted into the limelight last week when US media giant Buzzfeed featured a piece about him on their site.

The Buzzfeed article
The Buzzfeed article

The page described how Mr Kirkwood, from the Coombe in South Dublin, was an MMA fighter, a model and avid Harry Potter fan.

But, in an exclusive interview with Independent.ie, Mr Kirkwood has revealed how he almost lost it all when he became embroiled in a dispute at a Temple Bar club.

He explained how he broke a man's jaw after a row between their then girlfriends in Sin nightclub in October 2011.

Aaron Cruise was left needing surgery to insert titanium plates in his jaw after the incident.

But a jury unanimously found Mr Kirkwood not guilty after CCTV showed he acted in self-defence. Now he has issued an appeal to all young men to just walk away if they ever find themselves involved in a dispute.

“The whole process took four years and they were some of the darkest times of my life. I was let go from my job because it was published in the national newspapers with a picture of myself.”

MMA fighter Shane Kirkwood
MMA fighter Shane Kirkwood

He continued: “I learned so much. If I could go back to that time in that nightclub and rather than even approach the guy to try to de-escalate the trouble, I would have just gone home.”

He described how the case hung over him for four years before he was eventually found not guilty in 2015.

“My case was sent from the district to the circuit court. So I'm in a more serious court, I'm facing time in prison. I went through a week's trial after four years for one punch, one punch!”

He explained: “On the final day of this trial, I'm standing in the dock with three prison officers around ready to handcuff on and my whole family looking on. It was the most disappointing moment in my life because I actually thought I was going to prison.”

He recalled: “I looked at my mother in the court and I felt so sorry because she had raised me better than that. She had raised me to be a better man than someone who was in court facing time in prison.

“I knew I was innocent of what was being put against me but I actually thought 'they're going to put me in jail'. At the time when that court case was happening Kingsley's mother was pregnant.

“If I was found guilty I would have missed the birth of my son. That's terrifying even to think about that.”

Mr Kirkwood said he was overjoyed and felt “vindicated” when he was found no guilty but insists that he has learned some chilling lessons following the whole drama.

Asked if he has a message for other young men, he begged: “Just go home, if you think trouble is on the horizon, just go home. It’s really, really not worth it.”

His message comes after a garda launch last week which urged young men to use their brains and not their fists.

Today the Mr Kirkwood dedicates his time to his job, his martial arts and, most importantly, his one year-old son Kingsley – named after the Harry Potter character Kingsley Shacklebolt.

Shane Kirkwood
Shane Kirkwood
Shane Kirkwood

He explained that his own father wasn't present when he grew up and he is now determined to be as involved in his Kingsley's life as possible.

He is separated from Kingsley's mother but they have an excellent relationship as co-parents. He said there is no excuse for any father to walk away from their child.

“I just want to be as fully involved in his life because I don't want him to be left with the same questions that I was left with.”

The doting dad said: “I love spending time with him. My son is going to change the world, he's amazing and he's just so special and I tell him that every single time I'm with him.”

Mr Kirkwood is a self confessed Harry Potter nut and he admitted that during his difficult teenage years he found true friendship in the pages of JK Rowling's novels.

He stayed up late recently so he could be one of the first to get his hands on 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child'.

He bought one copy for himself and a second for his son and in this book he wrote: “Hoping you find as much magic, friendship, guidance, love and support in between these pages as your dad did.”

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