Retired garda commended for helping to convict murderer
A RETIRED garda officer who provided crucial evidence at a London murder trial, which resulted in a Tipperary man being jailed for life, is to receive a special commendation from an Old Bailey judge.
Yesterday afternoon, Tom Healy (78) -- who lives in Nenagh, Co Tipperary -- was informed by officers from Scotland Yard that Judge David Paget had personally praised him for his testimony at James Kennedy's murder trial.
Kennedy (54) -- a double rapist from Nenagh who was arrested by Mr Healy in 1978 -- was locked up for life yesterday after he was convicted of murdering Lithuanian hotel worker Nijole Siskeviciene (44) in 1988.
Mr Healy and a previous victim of Kennedy's were asked to give evidence of his past crimes -- committed in Tipperary and Limerick -- at the murder trial.
Under English law, the prosecution is allowed to tell a jury of a defendant's previous convictions during a trial as evidence of their bad character.
It is only used as an exception, and Mr Healy -- a retired officer from Sligo who was based in Nenagh as a garda officer -- was one of the first people to give evidence in this manner.
After passing the lifetime sentence on Kennedy yesterday, Judge Paget commended Mr Healy and the woman for their roles in the lengthy trial.
"I got a phone call around 12.30pm from the detective inspector at Scotland Yard that I was dealing with. He said there is a commendation from the judge coming over for me here," Mr Healy said.
"He also said the commander at Scotland Yard was also expressing his thanks," he said.
"I only did what they asked me to do," Mr Healy added.
Tom is the brother of former Irish Independent News Editor John Healy, who died in 2009.
On September 16, 1978, Kennedy raped a young woman at Lough Derg and was arrested later that night by Mr Healy.
He raped another woman in Limerick within two months while out on bail.
He later received a 10-year prison term and left for England shortly after his release.
Imposing Kennedy's life sentence yesterday, Judge Paget prescribed a minimum term of 20 years.
"I have no doubt you are a very dangerous man," he said.