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Man sentenced to mandatory term of life imprisonment for murdering Irish boxing champion

Logan Jackson had been found guilty by unanimous jury verdict of murdering Kevin Sheehy.
Dec 21st 2021, 1:18 PM 20,377 0

THE MOTHER OF Irish boxing champion Kevin Sheehy has said that his child, who was born after her father was brutally murdered, “will grow up knowing her daddy was a hero”.

Tracey Tully, whose son Kevin was repeatedly run over by a jeep driven by UK man Logan Jackson, told the Central Criminal Court today that: “Logan Jackson has two-and-a-half years done of his time, so that will come off his sentence.

“But so do I. I have two-and-a-half years done also. But I don’t get out.”

Commenting on the life sentence handed down to the defendant today, Tully said: “There is not enough justice in my land or a thousand lands that will mend my broken heart and bring my son back to me. This won’t be much of a victory to us. Victory to us is standing in the National Stadium in Dublin cheering our boy on as we have done many times before.”

The Limerick woman told the court she does not “get a day off or a minute’s peace to breathe”, knowing how “brutally” her son’s life was taken.

“I did not know the extent of my son’s injuries until Kevin’s dad and I and our families had to sit through this court and listen to how my son was knocked down repeatedly and rolled over. Only time will tell the impact that will have on us as our sentence goes on”.

Tully also spoke of the joy Kevin felt when he knew that he was becoming “a daddy” for the first time to a little girl.

“He was counting the days and weeks; he was so proud in the shop walking up and down the aisle rolling her pram and he did not care that it was pink”.

“That was the last thing he got to do for Kevaeh, he never got to see Kevaeh come into the world or hold Kevaeh and see her beautiful face as everything was robbed from him and Kevaeh on July 1 2019,” said Tully.

“The only comfort in life right now is the beautiful gift he left us. His beautiful daughter Kevaeh Gracie. Her piercing blue eyes, just like you; her curly hair, just like you. Although she was surrounded by grief, she has an amazing ability just like her daddy to be funny and happy.

She’s such a little character. Kevaeh lost her daddy that she has never met but she has so many memories around our city. She will grow up knowing her daddy was a hero.

The testimony was heard as part of an emotional victim impact statement read today to the Central Criminal Court, where 31-year-old Jackson was sentenced to the mandatory term of life imprisonment for murdering Sheehy.

Last Monday, Jackson of Longford Road, Coventry, England was found guilty by unanimous jury verdict of murdering Sheehy (20) at Hyde Road in Limerick city on July 1, 2019.

He had pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter.

The defendant was also found guilty last week on a second charge of endangerment. A concurrent sentence of seven years was imposed on this count today.

Jackson had denied intentionally or recklessly engaging in conduct which created a substantial risk of death or serious harm to others to wit; driving a Mitsubishi jeep vehicle dangerously at high speed in the direction of pedestrians on the same occasion.

The Central Criminal Court trial heard that the five-time Irish boxing champion fought to get up off the ground after he was first hit but the UK-registered Mitsubishi Shogun jeep ran him over twice again at speed.

The jury agreed with the prosecution’s case that Jackson had deployed his jeep as a murder weapon “as sure and as clear” as if it was a gun or a knife.

At the close of her statement, Tully read “The Boxer’s Prayer” to the court, saying: “I ask you not for victory, for somehow that seems wrong. But only for protection and courage to be strong. Strength now to conquer but just that I fight well. And prove myself a sportsman, at the final bell.”

A second victim impact statement was read to the court by Kevin’s younger sister Cassidy Tully. Other statements were read by prosecution counsel Dean Kelly SC on behalf of Kevin’s cousin, Thomas Lysaght and Kevin’s partner, Emma Colbert.

Following the statements defence counsel Michael Bowman SC, for Jackson, said his client wanted to apologise from the “bottom of his heart”. He said Jackson knew that he had “done wrong” and that he was “full of remorse and no apologies will ever be enough”.

Passing sentence today, Ms Justice Eileen Creedon said she would like to extend her sympathies to Kevin’s family, who was “lost in such violent and senseless circumstances”.

She then sentenced Jackson to the mandatory term of life imprisonment for murder. The sentence was backdated to 1 July 2019, when he went into custody.

Earlier, Sergeant Shane Ryan told prosecution counsel Dean Kelly SC that it appeared from CCTV footage taken on Hyde Road that “a verbal argument or low-level disagreement” had taken place between a group of men that night, which included Jackson and Sheehy. The “entire transaction” had lasted up to one minute or a minute-and-a-half, said the witness.

Ryan said that Kevin was from Limerick City, that he had no previous convictions and was of “impeccable character”.

The witness told the court that Jackson, who is originally from Coventry but who travelled between the UK and Ireland in 2019, has 25 previous convictions. These include possession of ammunition, dangerous driving, assault, battery and theft.

The court heard that Jackson has been involved in the criminal justice system in the UK since a young age and his convictions date back to 2001. His previous convictions are from the juvenile and magistrates courts and are not convictions on indictment, the court heard.

Bowman said his client’s previous conviction for ammunition was dealt with by way of conditional discharge and he “ended up in the juvenile system” in 2001.

Verdicts

Last Monday, the 10 jurors unanimously rejected a defence of provocation put forward by Jackson, who had told gardai that he felt “intimidated and provoked” after he claimed “three big fellas” threatened him and his cousin outside a house party.

As soon as the verdict was announced last week, huge cheers reverberated around the sixth floor of the Criminal Courts of Justice building from the approximately 50 people who could not get into Court 19 for the hearing and had gathered outside.

A second cheer went up moments later when the Sheehy family exited the court, as supporters wept and hugged each other.

The defendant, who has “some family connections” in Limerick, claimed that the men had attacked his 4×4 and that one of them had “whacked” his cousin and he had felt scared. However, he also admitted to gardai that he was not under threat when he pulled out in the vehicle and “was angry and drinking” at the time.

The jury accepted the prosecution’s case that Jackson had “thundered” his jeep into the 20-year-old before driving over him twice more at speed. In his closing speech, counsel for the DPP, Dean Kelly SC, said Jackson could have kept driving instead of “flying into a murderous rage” and “thundering” his jeep “like a Formula 1 driver” into the talented athlete. He said the evidence in the case “required and demanded” a verdict of guilty of murder.

The barrister said the defendant had attempted to lead gardaí “on a merry dance” by creating a “tapestry of self-serving lies” and that “the flavouring of the truth” had been employed by him in a fundamentally dishonest way.

Kelly described the accused’s accounts to gardai as “nonsense top to bottom, carefully told nonsense and carefully fabricated nonsense”. The CCTV footage, he said, had “settled” the issue of whether there was a crowd around his jeep that night or men attacking his vehicle.

Sportsman Kevin Sheehy was repeatedly run over by the vehicle and died as a result of multiple injuries, including a “catastrophic skull fracture”. His body was found lying on the road at about 4.40am after he had attended a house party to celebrate the Munster hurling final match.

The trial heard from Sheehy’s cousin – Thomas Lysaght – who said that after the party, he tried to grab onto his “brother” before he was struck and “taken away” from him by the speeding jeep.

The court also heard that at around 4.40am on the night Lysaght tried to pull Sheehy off the ground but the vehicle “spun around” and came back towards them for a second time.

“I had to let Kevin go and move away. He was dragged up the road,” Lysaght told the trial.

The witness described how he then tried to divert the driver’s attention away from his cousin with his belt but that the jeep “went over” the deceased a third time before fleeing the scene.

Evidence was given that the boxer and Jackson had “an exchange” moments after leaving a house party where they had gone to celebrate Limerick’s Munster hurling final victory over Tipperary. The court was told that “some exception was taken by something that was said or words spoken”.

Lysaght had testified that Jackson had his top off outside the party, which Sheehy noticed and said: “Look at the muscles on that guy”. When asked by Kelly if this man was indeed “a fella with big muscles”, Lysaght said he was not.

Kelly called this a “stupid, banal and ordinary” argument between the accused and Sheehy, which lasted 90 seconds at its height and it could be seen from the CCTV footage how unphysical it was.

Under cross-examination by Jackson’s lawyer, Michael Bowman SC, Lysaght denied that he and the deceased had goaded and threatened Jackson. The witness said he and his cousin were “just having a laugh” and denied that he told Jackson and his cousin that the deceased would “box the two of you” or “do the two of you in”.

He further denied that he and his friends were “spoiling for a fight” and said he did not take off his belt or act aggressively in any way towards the defendant.

It was the prosecution’s contention that Jackson had deployed his jeep as a murder weapon “as sure and as clear” as if it was a gun or a knife.

Kelly reminded the jury of the pattern of blue fabric marks found on the footpath from Sheehy’s clothing, which told a story “with a directness that words can’t match”. “Imagine hearing of his last moments through the fabrics left on the road,” he added.

Another witness, Derek Hanlon, told the nine-day trial how Sheehy fought to get up off the ground before the jeep ran him over at speed.

“People were screaming. The jeep tried to go for all of us then,” Hanlon said.

In her charge to the jury, Ms Justice Eileen Creedon told them they must decide if the accused was provoked before he repeatedly ran over Sheehy in his jeep.

Evidence in trial

At the outset of the trial, Derek Hanlon gave evidence that he had stopped to talk to Kevin Sheehy on Hyde Road at around 4.15am on the morning of 1 July 2019 and they had “a laugh and a joke”.

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The witness said that a man with an English accent, who he now knew to be Logan Jackson, and Sheehy were “having a few words”. Hanlon then began to walk up the road with Sheehy and his cousin Thomas Lysaght.

Hanlon said Jackson got into a UK-registered Mitsubishi jeep and moments later the vehicle turned around and “came driving back down the same inside road”. The witness said the jeep was driving “very fast towards us” on the inside road and mounted the path.

He said: “I got out of the way, into one of the gardens. I then heard two bangs, the first bang was easier or softer than the second one.”

Hanlon said he noticed Sheehy lying on the ground and then the jeep “went down the road again and it rolled over Kevin”. He continued: “Kevin was trying to fight. He tried to get up off the ground before the jeep hit him a second time but he wasn’t able to.”

The witness said that the vehicle was going very fast and the wheels of the jeep had hit or “went over” Sheehy a second time.

“People were screaming. The jeep tried to go for all of us then,” he said, adding that the vehicle then came back again. Hanlon did not know if the jeep hit Sheehy a third time nor where the SUV went after this.

Sheehy’s cousin, Thomas Lysaght, told the trial that he and Kevin are cousins but were more “like brothers”. At 2am, Lysaght and Sheehy got a taxi to a house party on Hyde Road, where up to 15 people were drinking and talking in the sitting room.

When Lysaght and Kevin were leaving the party that night they stopped to talk to “two English guys”. The witness told the jury that the “bigger guy” had his top off, which Kevin noticed and said: “Look at the muscles on that guy”.

When asked by the prosecution if this man was indeed “a fella with big muscles”, Lysaght said he was not.

“I can’t remember the conversation after that. Kevin said that to him laughing,” he recalled.

Lysaght and Sheehy began walking in the opposite direction but did not get too far.

“Me and Kevin were walking up the road just laughing. I was on the footpath, Kevin was half and half. I heard tyres squeaking,” he explained.

Lysaght said he looked around but did not see much as a jeep was “coming too fast, heading towards me and Kevin”.

The witness grabbed onto Kevin as the jeep came up onto the curb. “It hit us and he was taken away from me by the jeep. I was stunned,” he said.

The jeep made contact with Lysaght’s leg. “I rolled along the jeep and hit off the pillar of the wall,” he added.

Lysaght said he tried to get Kevin off the ground but the jeep “spun around” and came back towards them.

“I had to let Kevin go and move away. I couldn’t lift Kevin, he went over him a second time,” he said.

“The jeep then turned back around, he came back up again. I took off my belt and tried to get him towards me to get him away from Kevin,” he continued.

When asked by the prosecution counsel if he saw the jeep go over Kevin a third time, the witness replied: “Yes, it just kept going”.

Garda Shane Ryan identified Jackson in CCTV footage as the driver of a black coloured jeep, who exited the vehicle at Hyde Road on 1 July 2019 at 4.25am and walked in the direction of a house. He said the accused has a very distinctive limp.

At 4.45am, the witness said that Jackson entered the drivers seat of the jeep and his friend entered the rear passenger seat. The same car is then seen in CCTV footage driving at speed in the direction of pedestrians on Hyde Road.

Sergeant Kevin Burke testified that he carried out a forensic investigation of a single vehicle collision, which occurred on an avenue running parallel to Hyde Road on 1 July. He found that the jeep did not stop as it ran over Sheehy, while there was evidence of drag marks at the scene.

Detective Garda Pat Whelan said that Jackson presented himself at Tullamore Garda Station on the evening of 1 July 2019, where he was arrested on suspicion of murder.

The defendant told gardaí that he was involved in a hit-and-run in Limerick and had been driving the car. The accused was subsequently transferred to Roxboro Garda Station in Limerick, where he was interviewed on several occasions.

When asked in his garda interviews if it was accurate to say there was no threat from anyone at the time he pulled out his jeep, Jackson said: “Yes. I was angry and drinking. I don’t know why I done it [sic]“.

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