Thursday 19 September 2019

'This is my town' - court told of Healy-Rae claim in fracas

Appearance: Jackie Healy-Rae with Malachy Scannell at Kenmare District Court yesterday. Photo: Don MacMonagle
Appearance: Jackie Healy-Rae with Malachy Scannell at Kenmare District Court yesterday. Photo: Don MacMonagle
Accused: Kevin Healy-Rae (22) was also part of the case. Picture: Don MacMonagle

Ralph Riegel

A British tourist alleged two sons of Independent Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae and their friend assaulted him after one son was publicly challenged over queue-jumping.

Councillor Jackie Healy-Rae Jnr (23), his brother Kevin Healy-Rae (22) and their friend Malachy Scannell (34) have vehemently denied a series of assault charges arising from disputed events in Kenmare, Co Kerry, on December 28, 2017.

All three appeared before Judge Dave Waters at Kenmare District Court.

British national Kieran James, who was in Kenmare visiting Irish cousins, claimed he was attacked twice in the space of a few minutes by the two brothers after his wife, Lauren, had commented on Kevin Healy-Rae barging to the top of a queue at a Kenmare chip van.

When challenged over his actions at the chip van, several witnesses claimed Kevin Healy-Rae commented: "This is my town - and this is my chip van."

Mr James told Inspector Paul Kennedy he had been socialising that night in the Kerry town with his wife and his Irish cousins.

Mr James said he had seen Kevin Healy-Rae in a pub earlier dancing alone and "bouncing off a wall."

The British man said: "As far as we were concerned, that lad may have been on drugs."

Defence counsel Brian McInerney BL later said that comment was "beneath contempt" and did not form any part of the case.

At the chip van, Mr James said Kevin Healy-Rae shoved him in the chest and, when he pushed back, Jackie Healy-Rae placed him in a choke-hold.

Their group then left the area to avoid any further incident.

However, Mr James said they were again confronted by the trio. Jackie Healy-Rae grabbed his arm, forced it behind his back and he found himself being repeatedly punched.

Mr James said his nose was left bleeding and broken.

He had sustained a cut over his eye, pain to his shoulder and a chipped tooth.

Lauren James said she was shocked by her husband's face.

"His face was almost unrecognisable. His forehead was swollen. His nose was pushed to one side," Ms James said.

Mr McInerney argued that Kieran James was in fact the aggressor on the night and that some of his Irish family had "a serious dislike of the Healy-Raes".

"They would like to see them taken down a peg or two," the barrister argued.

Mr McInerney put it that Mr James had been the entire instigator of the incident.

"You were the aggressor. You attacked Kevin Healy-Rae. Jackie Healy-Rae saw that you were grappling and then he grabbed and restrained you to prevent an attack on a member of his family," he said.

Mr McInerney said Jackie Healy-Rae had acted just to "rescue" his younger brother.

"(It was) lawful self defence - it was an unprovoked attack," the defence counsel claimed.

Mr James rejected this version of events as untrue.

Judge Waters adjourned the hearing to September 25.

Irish Independent

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