English tourist ‘assaulted’ by Kerry councillor Jackie Healy-Rae during chip van row, court hears

Son of Michael Healy-Rae has lodged an appeal against his conviction

An English visitor who was on a night out in Kenmare has insisted he was “assaulted” by Kerry County Councillor Jackie Healy-Rae who held his arm behind his back while he and two others punched him in the face, a court has heard.

In 2019 at Kenmare District Court Jackie Healy-Rae, of Sandymount, Kilgarvan, son of the TD Michael Healy-Rae was convicted by Judge David Waters of assaulting Kieran James of London causing him harm at Main Street Kenmare on December 28th, 2017. He was also convicted of common assault near a mobile chip shop.

Mr Healy-Rae who had denied the charges was given an eight month sentence, suspended for one year. He immediately lodged an appeal.

Two other men, including the councillor’s younger brother Kevin, also of Sandymount Kilgarvan and Malachy Scannell of Inchacoosh, Kilgarvan who had been convicted of assaulting Mr James withdraw their appeals on Tuesday.


The appeal by Jackie Healy-Rae will take up to two days, the Circuit Criminal Court in Tralee was told by Tom Rice barrister for the DPP, instructed by Diane Reidy solicitor.

Mr James of London, in his 30s, told the court he was in Kenmare on December 27th, 2017 to celebrate his engagement to Lauren Callaghan, and to introduce his fiancée to his relatives.

They had been to dinner with older relatives and afterwards had gone to the Square Pint nightclub in Kenmare with the younger relatives, first cousins. Afterwards at around 3am they were in a queue for chips at a mobile chipper. Kevin Healy-Rae jumped the queue and placed his order and money on the counter. When Ms Gallagher objected, Kevin Healy-Rae said “this is my chip shop”, and “this is my town”.

Three men came back to the queue. Mr James said Kevin Healy-Rae pushed him against the chip van.

Mr James pushed him back. Then Jackie Healy-Rae grabbed Mr James with his right arm around his neck and was choking him, Mr James said.

The party of cousins decided to leave the scene and leave their food order and go home. They were followed up by Main Street by the three involved in the earlier confrontation and Jackie Healy-Rae grabbed Mr James and held his right arm behind his back while he and two others punched him in the face, Mr James said.

He suffered a broken nose as well as a chipped tooth and injury to his shoulder. The nose required two operations “and is still not quite right”, he said.

Cross-examined by John Berry, counsel for Mr Healy-Rae, instructed by Eimear Griffin solicitor, Mr James denied Jackie Healy-Rae was simply acting to “restrain” and was “a peacemaker” and was trying to restrain his brother on Main Street.

“No one is suggesting you were not assaulted,” Mr Berry put it to Mr James, suggesting that Jackie Healy-Rae ran up Main Street “not to attack but to restrain his brother”.

Mr Berry said CCTV “clearly” shows Jackie Healy-Rae trying to restrain Kevin Healy-Rae

“At any stage did you see Jackie Healy-Rae acting as peacemaker?” Mr Berry asked. He also asked if Jackie Healy-Rae acted to restrain his brother. Mr James said he did not.

He also put it to him that Jackie Healy-Rae was restraining Mr James at the chip shop earlier. But Mr James said he was assaulted not restrained.

In her evidence, Mr James’s wife Lauren told the court her husband was unable to defend himself after the three men “deliberately” ran after him on Main Street as his head was being held down, she said.

“They were punching his body. One of the men was holding Kieran down by his hood putting pressure on him so he couldn’t stand up,” she said.

She went over and shouted and Kieran’s face was “unrecognisable,” Ms James said.

Jackie Healy-Rae, denies assaulting Mr James, causing him harm on December 28th, 2017, on Main Street, Kenmare.

He also denies assaulting Mr James at East Park Lane in the town on the same date.

The District Court orders of the suspended sentences of six months in the case of Mr Scannell and of seven months in the case of Kevin Healy-Rae have been affirmed from today’s date after the court granted leave to withdraw their appeals.