Kerry councillor Jackie Healy-Rae loses appeal against convictions for chip van assault

The judge imposed a five-month sentence, suspended for six months, for the assault on Main Street, Kenmare and a concurrent, three-month sentence suspended for six months, for the assault by the mobile chip van

County councillor Jackie Healy-Rae has lost his appeal against convictions for a late-night assault in 2017.

Both the section 3 and section 2 convictions were affirmed at the Circuit Court in Tralee on Wednesday by Judge Francis Comerford after two days of evidence in the appeal.

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.

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, withdrew their appeals on Tuesday.

Mr James, in his 30s, told the court on Tuesday that 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 gone to the Square Pint nightclub in Kenmare and afterwards at around 3am they were in a queue for chips at a mobile chipper when 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”.

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 group decided to 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.

Jackie Healy-Rae, had denied that he had assaulted Mr James, causing him harm on December 28th, 2017, on Main Street, Kenmare.

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

On Wednesday, Jackie Healy-Rae told the court he had only acted to protect Kevin Healy-Rae his younger brother on the night who was then aged 19.

“At no time did I strike a blow on anybody. I am not a violent person,” Jackie Healy-Rae insisted to the court in response to Tom Rice, prosecutor who asked how it was Englishman Kieran James had sustained his injuries.

“The reason I am here today is to clear my name of these charges which I didn’t commit,” Mr Healy-Rae also told the court.

Responding to his own counsel John Berry, Mr Healy-Rae said:

“At no time did I punch anyone. It was never my intention to see anyone get hurt. All I wanted to do was to get my brother home.”

Mr Rice told Judge Francis Comerford on Wednesday it was the prosecution’s belief that “all three were involved in a common design to cause injury to Mr James” when they ran up Main Street where the main assault took place at around 3.15am.

The defence had argued Jackie Healy-Rae had acted as a peacemaker and was trying to restrain others.

Judge Comerford, in his decision, referred to an admission in court on Wednesday by Jackie Healy-Rae that in garda interviews in March 2018 he had not told the full story in order to protect the other two people.

“He was prepared to lie to garda so someone would not face charges of which they were guilty,” the judge said.

Jackie Healy-Rae was not the instigator of the assault, the judge also said .

However he did not believe him that he did not see the assault and he referred again to the “lies he told garda” before saying he was “affirming” the Section 3 assault.

The judge also affirmed the conviction for the Section 2 assault near the mobile chipper.

Mr Healy-Rae had maintained he was holding Mr James at that point in order to restrain him and so he would not “lunge” at his brother Kevin. The court heard he had no previous convictions.

In his victim impact statement read to the court by a garda , Kieran James said he no longer felt safe or secure in the locality where his mother grew up and the whole assault had a huge impact on his personal life.

Handing down sentence Judge Comerford said he was not going to impose an immediate custodial sentence. He also said Kenmare was not a particularly dangerous place and attacks happened in England too. He accepted Jackie Healy-Rae had played a lesser part in the assault.

He imposed five months on the Section 3 assault and three months on the Section 2 assault. Both to run concurrently and both suspended for six months.