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Two Healy-Rae brothers found guilty of assaulting a man on a night out in 2017

The brothers are the sons of Independent Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae.

The court house in Kenmare.
The court house in Kenmare.
Image: Google Maps

TWO SONS OF Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae have been convicted of a series of assault charges arising out of an incident during Christmas 2017. 

At the second day of the trial today, Judge David Waters said he had no doubt that Jackie Healy-Rae, his brother Kevin Healy-Rae and Malachy Scannell, also from Kilgarvan in County Kerry, were guilty of the charges. 

During the opening day of the hearing in September, the complainant, Kieran James (30), told Kenmare District Court that he was assaulted by all three accused during a night out in Kenmare in the early hours of 28 December 2017.

Jackie Healy Rae (24), who was elected to Kerry County Council last May and works as parliamentary assistant to his father, denied assaulting Kieran James, causing him harm, on 28 December, 2017, at Main Street, Kenmare, contrary to Section 3 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997.

He also denied assaulting James at East Park Lane, Kenmare, on the same date, contrary to Section 2 of the same Act.

His brother, Kevin Healy-Rae (20), also of Sandymount, Kilgarvan, denied the charge  charge of assault causing harm to the same man on 28 December, 2017 at Main Street, Kenmare.

The third man, Malachy Scannell, of Inchacoosh, Kilgarvan, is charged with assault causing harm to both Kieran James and Cornelius O’Sullivan at Main Street, Kenmare, on 28 December, 2017.

Scannell is also charged with damaging prescription eye glasses belonging to O’Sullivan.

Kieran James said a dispute broke out when Kevin Healy-Rae barged up and jumped the queue at a chip van in Kenmare town centre and in the course of an exchange, Kevin Healy-Rae said to him “This is my town and this is my chip van.”

James said Kevin Healy-Rae pushed him against the chip van so he pushed him back whereupon Jackie Healy-Rae grabbed him in a head choke so tightly for about 30 seconds that he could not breathe.

His companions pleaded with Jackie Healy-Rae to release him and when he did, they all walked quickly up Main Street but had gone 40 yards when they heard shouting and they saw the two Healy-Raes and Scannell.

James said Jackie Healy-Rae caught his right arm and pushed it up behind his back and they grabbed him by the jacket before punching him, with this second assault lasting 30 seconds or so as he struggled to protect himself.

He said that he received six or seven punches to his face which resulted in his nose bleeding and he subsequently had to have two nose operations while also suffered a cut over his eye and a torn ligament in his shoulder.

James’s wife, Lauren, supported her husband’s version, telling the court her husband had said nothing to Kevin Healy-Rae when he jumped the chip van queue and it was she who took issue with him barging to the top of the queue.

She said that during the second incident when the three men attacked her husband, she put her hands to them and shouted at them to stop hitting him while her husband’s cousin Jane O’Sullivan also did something similar.

“I saw the three boys attacking Kieran – his face was almost unrecognisable – his forehead was gashed and swollen – his nose was pushed to one side and I said to him ‘They’ve broken your nose’,” she told the court

James’s cousin, Neily O’Sullivan also alleged that the two Healy-Raes had assaulted James at the chip van and all three accused had assaulted him on Main Street and he also denied that James was the aggressor.

O’Sullivan also rejected a suggestion his own family were envious of the Healy-Raes because of their success and because of political differences and they had triggered the incident “to bring the Healy-Raes down a peg or two”.

At today’s hearing, garda interviews with the three accused men were read into evidence.

Jackie Healy-Rae told gardaí that his younger brother, Kevin, had come to ask for assistance after an older man had been intimidating him at the chip van. 

Jackie Healy-Rae said he saw a man lunging at his brother and he admitted to gardaí he ‘grabbed him around the neck’ with his right arm.

Healy-Rae also told gardaí that he later went up Main Street in Kenmare to see if another chip shop was still open. He saw a scuffle had broken out. He pushed his brother Kevin away but denied striking anybody on Main Street. 

In his interview with gardaí, Kevin Healy-Rae said the incident that morning was started by a group of people at the chip van saying derogatory things about their father.

This whole thing was initiated by politics. “There was a man staring at me, I felt intimidated, he was making smart comments and I asked Jackie to stand with me,” he told gardaí in an interview . 

“People all over the country hate our family and it’s no different here in this county. I was brought up to not let it get to me, to smile and walk away,” he said. 

Kevin Healy-Rae then claimed he was struck in the right eye. He then left the scene of the chip van and walked up Main Street where a scuffle took place.

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“I never intimidated anybody in my whole life. I am not a bad person and would never do anything like that,” he added. 

In his closing submission to the court, defence Barrister Brian McInerney described the State’s case as ‘manifestly unfair’. 

He said gardaí had failed to fully investigate a complaint of assault made by Kevin Healy-Rae against Kieran James on 28 February. 

“What happened here is totally disgraceful. Kevin Healy-Rae made a formal complaint in February but nothing transpired except his arrest and detention. James was never arrested,” McInerney said. 

“There is not a shred of medical evidence before the court about Mr James’ injuries. The only medical evidence is from Kevin Healy-Rae. It would be stretching credulity to suggest that the gardaí came within a million miles of what was required,” he told the court. 

In his judgement, Judge David Waters said he had no doubt what happened on the morning of the incident. 

He said that an assault occurred at the chip van. Jackie Healy-Rae got involved, he said, when he was faced with a choice. 

“Jackie Healy-Rae should have exercised proper judgement and told his brother to go, but he came back and got involved and assaulted Kieran James when he caught him in a headlock. That’s what happened. The evidence from Kieran James was quite compelling,” Judge Waters said. 

Regarding CCTV, Judge Waters said that Jackie Healy-Rae had identified himself and his brother in the footage. 

“It’s quite clear that, contrary to what the three defendants said, the three were together in group, running up Main Street and engaged in an assault. That’s what I saw.” 

Judge Waters convicted the accused men on all charges. He adjourned the case for sentencing to 6 December when one of the victims, Kieran James, will deliver a victim impact statement to court.

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