Thursday 30 March 2017

Thomas Keaney's sister: 'We’re a strong family and we’re together but we’re just broken. Broken'

Thomas Keaney
Thomas Keaney
Caroline Crawford

Caroline Crawford

The sister of a young Galway man who was killed in a coward’s punch attack in Australia has said the family have been left ‘broken’ by the tragedy.

Lauren Keaney’s brother Thomas died in Perth in 2013. He died 10 days 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 Monday, Al Jrood was sentenced to nine years imprisonment for the attack and must serve at least seven years.

The Keaney family expressed their upset at the outcome, with Lauren telling Galway Bay fm they were unhappy with the sentence.

“No. We’re not, no. How do you put years on a life? Nothing has changed, we still don’t have Thomas. We fully believe we’re the ones with the life sentence.

“Al Jarood’s family will have him back in a few years and we’ll still stand at a grave because of what he’s done, so no. We know that Thomas did absolutely nothing wrong and he did not deserve the pain he suffered for the 10 days. So no, no consequences will ever be enough,” she said.

She said the family had suffered health problems since Thomas’ death adding her parents were “not good” but had stayed strong for the family.

Read more: Bouncer jailed for nine years for 'unprovoked' punch that killed Irishman in Australia

“My mom’s an absolute saint. My dad has very, very bad stress problems and been in hospital twice for a week at a time. You know, no one sees what goes on behind closed doors.

“It’s a tragic tragic ending. We’re a strong family and we’re together but we’re just broken. Broken,” she said.

Speaking about Al Jarood, Lauren said they could not forgive their brother’s attacker.

“To forgive someone, that’s not going to happen for a while.

“One of the last scenes we see on the CCTV is actually a fight breaking out and Thomas walking away so you knew from the start of it that Thomas did absolutely nothing wrong and walked away from a bad situation.

“You see All Jarood actually walk with the crowd turn around look at Thoma and walk at Thomas. And the judge said it yesterday, he said this was unprovoked he could have walked away from it and he chose not to so seven mandatory years when he’s actually not homeless and he’s inside four wall. His freedom might be gone but he’s still being fed and everyone knows years go by so fast,” she added.

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Lauren, her parents Ann and Tom and siblings Leeann and Brian, travelled to Australia for the trial. However, they watched the sentencing via video link from Galway. Speaking to the  Keith Finnegan Show, she said gathering for the sentencing had been traumatic for the family.

“It was horrible, I don’t think anybody slept the night before. We were in Galway by about 7am in the morning to have it watched. It  brought back memories as soon as the court showed up on the screen, we were in pretty bad shape.

“I suppose it’s worse, it never gets any easier,” she said.

She said she hoped the family would be able to turn over another chapter with the completion of the case but added: “you still wake up and no phone calls will ever be answered for mum and things like that. You stand at a grave. Time heals but it takes a long long time.”

The young Galway woman also expressed the thanks to all those who had helped the family during and since the tragic death.

“Thank you so much and we’ve never ever, ever forgotten everyone who has helped out and supported us in our time of need and we’ll never forget that or forget those people,” she added.

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