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All-Star hurler Kyle Hayes leaving court today in Co Limerick. Brendan Gleeson

'The main thing is you’re going home': Kyle Hayes escaped jail after conviction for violent attack

The All-Star hurler walked free from court today.

ALL-STAR LIMERICK HURLER Kyle Hayes walked free from court today after receiving fully suspended jail sentences following his convictions for committing “dangerous” violent disorder inside and outside a nightclub.

During the incident he attacked a young carpenter who sustained serious facial injuries.

Immediately after the sentences were imposed, Hayes barrister, Brian McInerney SC, shepherded the five-time winning All- Ireland hurler into a consultation room at Limerick Circuit Criminal Court, telling Hayes: “The main thing is you are going home”.

Judge Dermot Sheehan said Limerick hurling manager John Kiely, who previously appeared before the court as a character witness for Hayes, had asked him to give the five-time All Ireland winning hurler “a chance”, and he was giving Hayes that chance.

“An immediate custodial sentence would not benefit society,” the judge said.

Hayes showed no emotion when Judge Sheehan told him to “stand up” and hear the sentences.

The judge said: “The violence shown by Kyle Hayes was significant and dangerous”.

Hayes, (25), of Ballyashea, Kildimo, Co Limerick, had denied two violent disorder charges, but he was convicted of the charges by a jury, which Judge Sheehan said meant he had to impose a custodial sentence, but one he later fully suspended.

The judge imposed a suspended two-year sentence on Hayes for violent disorder outside the Icon nightclub on the morning of 28 October 2019, and a concurrent 18-month suspended sentence for violent disorder inside the nightclub on the same morning.

Hayes was found not guilty by a jury, following his two-week trial last November, of a charge of assault causing harm to McCarthy, however Judge Sheehan said “none of this would have happened if not for Kyle Hayes”.

McCarthy suffered trauma, underwent surgery for a fractured eye socket, and suffered loss of earnings due to the nature of his injuries. Judge Sheehan directed Hayes to pay €10,000 in compensation to the victim Cillian McCarthy who was attacked by Hayes and others on the night.

The order is without prejudice to any civil proceedings now open to McCarthy, the judge said. Judge Sheehan added the serious injuries to McCarthy had arisen out of the violence by Hayes and others on the night.

Two gardaí gave evidence to the trial that they saw Hayes kicking a male on the street but Judge Sheehan said this man appeared to have been another man and not McCarthy.

Judge Sheehan said McCarthy had been an “innocent” victim on the night.

Kyle Hayes “aggressively” approached McCarthy and his friend Craig Cosgrave inside Smyths Bar, located underneath the nightclub.

The court heard Hayes was warning them to “stay the f**k away” from two young women they were taking to at the bar, one of whom Hayes believed had been seeing a friend of his, the judge said.

When McCarthy told Hayes he was friends with the young women, Hayes invited him to fight, and told him, “do you know who the f**k I am?”

Judge Sheehan said McCarthy and Cosgrave walked away upstairs to the Icon, but he said Hayes and another man approached them again “aggressively” on the dancefloor and began punching McCarthy.

Judge Sheehan said while the other man threw the first punch, Hayes was the “instigator” of the violence and that “Kyle Hayes punched Cillian McCarthy continuously in the head” during the violence on the dance door.

After pursuing McCarthy, who was bleeding from his head, outside the club, Kyle Hayes again “aggressively” approached him and told him he would “dig the head off him”.

The judge said that while Gardaí were clear in their evidence that Kyle Hayes was involved in attacking a male who was lying on the street, this man was not Cillian McCarthy.

The Judge said Hayes had to be “pulled away” from the male by gardaí, and that the hurler told one garda to “f**k off” before he broke free of the garda’s grip and ran away.

Hayes was arrested a few streets away and later charged.

The judge said Hayes’s “manic response” to McCarthy talking to other people at a nightclub was “extraordinary”.

The judge said the jury, in finding Hayes not guilty of the stand-alone charge of assaulting McCarthy causing him harm, had “obviously taken into account” that there was no CCTV evidence of the alleged assault outside the nightclub.

The judge said the jury also considered that gardaí had said Hayes was kicking a male who was not McCarthy who was lying on the street and that McCarthy who had given evidence that Kyle Hayes and others had “kicked” and “stamped” him on the ground, acknowledged there had also been another male in the vicinity of the street attack who looked very similar to Hayes.

Judge Sheehan said he believed Hayes was “remorseful”, although no apology was heard in court from Hayes. The judge said he accepted Hayes had no previous conditions, was of good character, a good worker, had raised money for charities, and is a “successful sportsman”.

However, the judge said he “(could) not ignore” Hayes had “significant culpability” in the events on the violent events on the night. He said gardaí had said they had seen Hayes kicking a man, not Mr McCarthy, who was “lying on the ground while others were kicking him”.

“Kicking a person who is on the ground is dangerous”.

The judge said the violent disorder inside and outside the nightclub were “linked”, and that Kyle Hayes and others acted in a “threatening and menacing” manner when they “followed Cillian McCarthy out of the nightclub”.

The judge said he was “troubled” that Hayes, during his interviews with gardai following his arrest, could not recall any of the alleged exchanges with McCarthy, but that Hayes could tell his hurling coach, John Kiely, what had happened afterwards.

The judge said there was no excuse for Hayes’s “manic response” and “extraordinary attitude” on the night.

Cillian McCarthy told the court previously that he had suffered psychologically and physically.

Prior to the attacks on the night, he said he loved sport and socialising, but he was now “afraid” to go out at night, and he had missed out on work.

Afterwards, Hayes made no comment to waiting journalists. McCarthy said afterwards: “I’m just looking forward to putting it behind me now.”

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