Friday 24 November 2017

Ex-garda's evidence at Old Bailey trial helped jail killer and rapist

Barry Duggan

A FORMER garda officer who tracked down and arrested a rapist 30 years ago gave crucial evidence in a London murder trial last month which has seen the same Irishman jailed for life.

Tom Healy (78) was required by the prosecution at the Old Bailey in London to give key testimony against James Kennedy (54), also known as James Citro.

Kennedy, originally from Nenagh, Co Tipperary, moved to England where he murdered a Lithuanian cleaning lady -- 20 years after he subjected two women to vicious rapes in Tipperary and Limerick.

"I was asked to give evidence in the Old Bailey and did so for two days with my statements from the time.

"The prosecution barristers were very grateful to me and said my evidence was very important for the case.

"I never thought I'd see the day when I'd be in the Old Bailey -- especially this long after retirement, but there you are," Mr Healy told the Irish Independent.

Under English law, in exceptional circumstances the prosecution can reveal a defendant's previous convictions during a trial as evidence of his or her previous bad character.

And Mr Healy -- a retired officer from Sligo who was based in Nenagh for most of his career -- was told he was one of the first people to give evidence in such a manner.

As part of a cold-case investigation into the 1998 murder and sexual assault of Nijole Siskeviciene, officers uncovered crucial evidence when Kennedy was arrested for drink-driving last year.

His DNA sample matched saliva from the victim's bra and back of her neck

Kennedy's roots were tracked back to Nenagh where the retired officer provided investigating London police with the evidence of the rapist's sordid past.

On September 16, 1978, he raped a young woman at Lough Derg, near Nenagh.

He raped another in Limerick two months later while out on bail.

"I'll never forget the night he raped a young girl here. It was the worst night I ever had working," Mr Healy said.

"She was brought to the station in a bad way and I had to go out to Ballycommon and arrest him," Mr Healy said.

"The same night, there was a fatal road accident and a young man died. I had to tell his family, who I was friends with, and it was awful.

Confessed

"Then I had to go back to the station to investigate the rape," the former officer said.

Kennedy -- then a 21-year-old married man -- confessed all to the officer.

"I want to tell the truth and get it off my mind," the rapist said. "That poor woman could have died that night. He was charged with attempted murder but got off that when he entered a plea to her rape," Mr Healy recalled.

He received a 10-year sentence for the two rapes and left for England shortly after his release.

"That was it. I retired 23 years ago and thought no more of it. Then the police officers from England came over and were asking about him. I was put in touch with them and I told them what I investigated," Mr Healy said.

The former garda -- along with the Limerick rape victim -- provided evidence of the 1978 crimes in London over the last fortnight.

Kennedy changed his name by deed poll to James Citro in 2003.

Irish Independent

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