Wednesday 21 February 2018

Trial begins of bouncer accused of killing Irishman with 'sucker punch'

Thomas Keaney
Thomas Keaney Newsdesk Newsdesk

An Australian bouncer killed an Irishman over a chair in kebab shop, a court has heard.

Abbas Al Jrood is standing trial in the WA Supreme Court over the unlawfully killing of Thomas Keaney (23) in the early hours of December 17, 2013.

The Galway native died in Perth on December 28 after his life support was switched off.

The 23-year-old had been in Australia for 13 months, and had just received his second ‘Working Holiday Visa’ when he was allegedly punched from behind by Mr Al Jrood.

Read More: Parents found touching hand-written note by their late son Thomas Keaney

The court heard that the Perth man struck at Mr Keaney from behind, and struck him, knocking him to the ground, after a fight erupted over a chair at a kebab shop in the Perth entertainment district of Northbridge.

As Mr Keaney fell he hit his head on the ground. Despite his condition initially improving, he died in hospital 10 days later.

His friends had kept a vigil by his bedside, taking it in turns to stay with him until his parents arrived on St Stephen's Day.

The court in Western Australia was told that an argument had developed after a chair being used by Mr Al Jrood was taken by people who were with Mr Keaney.

Read More: Perth attack victim's heartbroken sister reads touching letter at his funeral

"What happened next isn't clear ... but things very quickly got out of control," said prosecutor Laura Christian.

According to the Australian news agency ABC News, Ms Christian claimed the accused was "pissed off" and "took his anger out on the defenceless Mr Keaney".

“Al Jrood snuck up on Mr Keaney and punched him to the back of the head without any warning… He would not have seen it coming,” she added.

The defence lawyer for Mr Al Jrood however described Mr Keaney's death as a "tragic accident".

Barrister Ken Bates said his client "forcefully pushed" Mr Keaney because he "feared for his own safety".

Read More: Organs from victim of Perth attack save five lives

He said Mr Al Jrood saw the 23-year-old put his hand into the handbag of a woman standing near him, and was concerned he was reaching for a weapon.

Mr Bates said as a licensed security officer, his client would have been aware of “what some women carried in their handbags to protect themselves, including pepper spray and scissors.”

Adding that the technique used by Mr Al Jrood “may look like a punch but that it was really a push”.

The trial is expected to run for two weeks.

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