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Two Healy-Rae brothers given suspended sentences for Kenmare chip van assault

Jackie Healy-Rae, 24, who is a county councillor, and Kevin Healy-Rae, 22, are the sons of Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae.

The courthouse in Kenmare
The courthouse in Kenmare
Image: Google Maps

TWO SONS OF Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae have each been handed down suspended prison sentences for assaulting and causing harm to an English visitor to Kenmare, Co. Kerry, over Christmas 2017.

Jackie Healy-Rae, 24, who is his father’s parliamentary assistant and a county councillor, and Kevin Healy-Rae, 22, both of Sandymount, Kilgarvan, were given suspended jail sentences of eight months and seven months respectively.

The incident arose when Englishman Kieran James, 30, and his wife Lauren, objected to Kevin Healy-Rae jumping a long queue at a chip van in the early hours of December 28.

They were convicted of assault along with a third man, Malachy Scannell, of Inchinacoosh, Kilgarvan. Mr Scannell received a six month suspended sentence.

The sentences were handed down by Judge David Waters in Kenmare this morning.

He described the older brother as “an enforcer” in his actions on the night and said the main reason they weren’t being jailed was their previous lack of convictions.

The judge said the case fought on their behalf was directly contradicted by CCTV evidence.

The case first came before the court in April and was fully contested over two days, first in Kenmare and then last month in Tralee, where it had to be relocated to show CCTV footage as Kenmare did not have the facilities.

All three had denied the charges.

‘This is my chip van’

The incident happened when Mr James’ wife took issue with Kevin Healy-Rae “barging” to the top of the line to place his order at Park Lane, Kenmare. She told him that there is a queue and Kevin Healy-Rae responded:

This is my town, this is my chip van.

He then arrived back with his older brother Jackie Healy-Rae and their friend.

Mr James was assaulted in two separate locations. The first was a common assault at the chip van in Park Lane. Jackie Healy-Rae held him in a headlock so he couldn’t breathe until Mr James’ friends pleaded with him to let him go.

Moments later, the brothers and Mr Scannell “charged” up Main Street after Mr James, where they dealt him multiple blows, the court was told.

Mr James’ face was almost unrecognisable after the assault and he was taken by ambulance from the scene. He was left with a broken nose, a chipped tooth, a torn shoulder ligament and has had to have a number of nose operations. His nose may never be fully repaired, he told the court.

The brothers and Mr Scannell had all denied assaulting Mr James.

Mr Scannell also denied assaulting another man, Cornelius O’Sullivan, and damaging a pair of prescription glasses belonging to him.

Jackie claimed he acted to protect his younger brother, but Judge David Waters rejected that claim.

Sentencing

At the sentencing hearing, which took place at noon at Kenmare District Court, the victim impact statements of Mr James and Mr O’Sullivan along with character references for all three were handed to the judge.

However, during his perusal of the documents on the bench, Judge Waters tore off one of the type written sheets and handed it back to defence solicitor, Padraig O’Connell, and said:

A character reference should be just that. This is a request to deal with the matter in a certain way, and I’m handing that back.

Mr O’Connell told the court the incidents were “regretted”. None had previous convictions and all three were in gainful employment. The victim impact statements were accepted, he also said.

What had occurred was “effectively one incident” arising out of one incident.

Handing down sentence, Judge Waters said the main over-riding mitigation factor was “no previous convictions”. He was also taking the character references into account in mitigation.

However, one of the aggravating factors was the “harm” suffered by the victim and the serious nature of the assault.

“This was not a one-punch assault,” Judge Waters said. 

The other aggravating factor was how the accused maintained in their statements and in cross-examination “a version of events on Main Street not borne out by CCTV,” Judge Waters said. 

“The problem was the case fought on their behalf was directly contradicted by the CCTV,” the judge stated.

“But at least they didn’t get into the witness-box and swear,” the judge added, referring to the fact that the accused did not give live evidence in their trial.

He referred to “the three of them together” – the two Healy-Raes and Mr Scannell – running towards the individual and then walking back down the street. 

“That was the premeditated element,” the judge said.

What had happened was “no different” to any other town in Ireland at takeaways which are flash points for young men, he said. “But what happened after that was premeditated.”

Jackie Healy-Rae and Mr Scannell got involved and acted as enforcers and that was the aggressive part.

Mr O’Connell intervened and said there would be a civil court option, but the judge said  that had no part in the  sentencing. 

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“In all three cases a custodial sentence would be appropriate,” Judge Waters said. 

He convicted Kevin Healy-Rae and imposed a seven month prison sentence suspended on his own bond of €200 euro, warning he must not leave the court until he signed the bond.

Jackie Healy-Rae, rather than make a decision to not get involved, had “acted as enforcer”, together with Mr Scannell, and had placed the victim in a headlock. 

“That has to incur a custodial sentence,” the judge said. He handed down eight months imprisonment, suspending them for eight months. 

He convicted Jackie Healy-Rae also of the section two assault near the chip van.

“Mr Healy-Rae should not have to leave court until signing the bond,” the judge said.

Mr Scannell was involved to a lesser degree, the judge said. He imposed six months suspended in the case of the assault on Mr James and six months suspended in the case of the assault on Mr O’Sullivan.

About the author:

Anne Lucey

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