Five-time All-Ireland winning Limerick hurler Kyle Hayes told gardaí, after his arrest on suspicion of assaulting a man outside a nightclub, that he did not carry out the attack.
The sportsman did, however, admit during Garda interviews that he “ran away” from the scene of the alleged assault, his trial heard today.
Mr Hayes, (25), of Ballyashea, Kildimo, is before Limerick Circuit Criminal court on two counts of violent disorder, and one count of assault causing harm to Cillian McCarthy, (24), outside the Icon nightclub, Limerick city, in October 2019. He denies all charges.
Craig Cosgrave, (24), of Caherally, Grange, Co Limerick, has denied a single count of violent disorder inside Icon nightclub on the night.
Two gardaí who responded to fighting outside the nightclub told the trial that they saw Mr Hayes “kicking” a male who was “cowering” on the ground, trying to protect his head with his hands. The gardaí said they told Mr Hayes to stop and stay where he was, but that he broke free from one of their grips and ran. The gardaí chased the Limerick hurler on foot and eventually apprehended him a few streets away.
On Wednesday, the court heard evidence of interviews Mr Hayes gave to gardaí following his arrest.
Mr Hayes was processed through the custody suite at Henry Street Garda station, had his fingerprints and palms scanned, and his photograph and DNA taken.
Mr Hayes told gardaí he “loved” being a member of the Limerick senior hurling team that won the county’s first All-Ireland in 45 years in 2018. He said, however, his public status was “not easy” to deal with.
“If you want to go somewhere quiet or go out for some dinner, someone comes up to talk or get a photograph,” he told gardaí.
When gardaí asked if he felt that “people want to take you down”, Mr Hayes replied, “sometimes”. “Did that happen here [in this situation]?”, the gardaí asked, and he replied, “that’s part of it”.
Mr Hayes said he did not often socialise in public, except for “only after big matches”.
Cillian McCarthy gave evidence last week that Mr Hayes confronted him earlier on the night inside Smyths Bar, on the ground floor of the Icon, and warned him to “stay the f**k away” from two girls he was talking to.
Mr McCarthy said Mr Hayes became “aggressive” and asked him, “do you know who the f**k I am?”
Today, it was heard Mr Hayes denied during Garda interviews that he got into a “verbal confrontation” with anyone in the bar.
Mr McCarthy told the trial that Mr Hayes and others attacked him on the dancefloor of the club, and afterwards, they followed him out of the club and stamped and kicked him while he was on the ground.
The trial also heard allegations that Mr McCarthy’s friend, Craig Cosgrave, got involved in the dancefloor melee in trying to defend Mr McCarthy.
Mr Hayes denied in Garda interviews assaulting Mr McCarthy and that he had been thrown out of the club by security staff. Mr Hayes’s barrister, Brian McInerney SC, told the trial that Mr Hayes was seen on CCTV footage walking out of the club. The barrister suggested that the CCTV footage showed security staff removing Mr McCarthy from the club’s dancefloor on the night.
Mr Hayes told gardaí he did not know how Mr McCarthy sustained a fracture to a bone under his right eye on the night. The hurler admitted in interviews that he ran away after gardaí arrived on the scene.
“They (gardaí) arrived and started roaring at me and I ran away,” Mr Hayes told interviewers. When asked why gardaí had roared at him, Mr Hayes said, “they probably knew my face”.
Mr Hayes said he eventually stopped running from gardaí because he believed running away “made me look guilty”.
When asked why his shoes were not on him, he said: “They must have fell off me when I was running, they’re loose, you don’t tie them”.
“I just wanted to get out of there, I didn’t want to get dragged into it.”
The prosecution rested its case on Wednesday. Closing submissions from the prosecution and defence counsels are due to be heard on Thursday morning before the jury retires to consider its verdict.
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