Man who ‘thundered’ SUV into boxing champion found guilty of murder

Logan Jackson had deployed vehicle as weapon ‘as sure and as clear’ as if it was a gun or a knife, court told

A UK man who used his SUV to repeatedly run over Irish boxing champion Kevin Sheehy has been found guilty of his murder.

The Central Criminal Court trial heard that the five times Irish boxing champion fought to get up off the ground after he was first hit but the UK-registered Mitsubishi Shogun vehicle ran him over twice again at speed.

The jury agreed with the prosecution’s case that Logan Jackson had deployed his vehicle as a murder weapon “as sure and as clear” as if it was a gun or a knife.

The 10 jurors took just two hours and 30 minutes to unanimously reject a defence of provocation put forward by Jackson, who had told gardaí that he felt “intimidated and provoked” after he claimed “three big fellas” threatened him and his cousin outside a house party.

As soon as the verdict was announced, huge cheers reverberated around the sixth floor of the Criminal Courts of Justice building from the approximately 50 people who could not get into Court 19 for the hearing and had gathered outside. A second cheer went up moments later when the family exited the court, as supporters wept and hugged each other.

The defendant, who has “some family connections” in Limerick, claimed that the men had attacked his 4x4 and that one of them had “whacked” his cousin and he had felt scared. However, he also admitted to gardaí that he was not under threat when he pulled out in the vehicle and “was angry and drinking” at the time.

The jury accepted the prosecution's case that Jackson had "thundered" his vehicle into the 20-year-old before driving over him three times at speed. In his closing speech, counsel for the DPP, Dean Kelly SC, said Jackson could have kept driving instead of "flying into a murderous rage" and "thundering" his vehicle "like a Formula 1 driver" into the talented athlete. He said the evidence in the case "required and demanded" a verdict of guilty of murder.

The barrister said the defendant had attempted to lead gardíi “on a merry dance” by creating a “tapestry of self-serving lies” and that “the flavouring of the truth” had been employed by him in a fundamentally dishonest way.

Mr Kelly described the accused’s accounts to gardaí as “nonsense top to bottom, carefully told nonsense and carefully fabricated nonsense”. The CCTV footage, he said, had “settled” the issue of there being a crowd around his SUV that night and men attacking his vehicle.

Jackson (31), of Longford Road, Coventry, England had pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to Mr Sheehy’s (20) manslaughter at Hyde Road in Limerick city on July 1st, 2019.

The defendant, who has a prosthetic leg, was also found guilty on Monday on a second charge of endangerment.

He had denied intentionally or recklessly engaging in conduct which created a substantial risk of death or serious harm to others to wit; driving a Mitsubishi vehicle dangerously at high speed in the direction of pedestrians on the same occasion.

Catastrophic fracture

Sportsman Kevin Sheehy was repeatedly run over by the vehicle and died as a result of multiple injuries, including a "catastrophic skull fracture". His body was found lying on the road at about 4.40am after he had attended a house party to celebrate the Munster hurling final match.

The trial heard from Mr Sheehy’s cousin - Thomas Lysaght - who said that after the party, he tried to grab onto his “brother” before he was struck and “taken away” from him by the speeding SUV.

The court also heard that at around 4.40am on the night Mr Lysaght tried to pull Mr Sheehy off the ground but the vehicle “spun around” and came back towards them for a second time. “I had to let Kevin go and move away. He was dragged up the road,” Mr Lysaght told the trial.

The witness described how he then tried to divert the driver’s attention away from his cousin with his belt but that the SUV “went over” the deceased a third time before fleeing the scene.

Evidence was given that the boxer and Jackson had “an exchange” moments after leaving a house party where they had gone to celebrate Limerick’s Munster hurling final victory over Tipperary. The court was told that “some exception was taken by something that was said or words spoken”.

Mr Lysaght had testified that Jackson had his top off outside the party, which Mr Sheehy noticed and said: “Look at the muscles on that guy”. When asked by Mr Kelly if this man was indeed “a fella with big muscles”, Mr Lysaght said he was not.

Mr Kelly called this a “stupid, banal and ordinary” argument between the accused and Mr Sheehy, which lasted 90 seconds at its height and it could be seen from the CCTV footage how unphysical it was.

Under cross-examination by Jackson’s lawyer, Michael Bowman SC, Mr Lysaght denied that he and the deceased had goaded and threatened Jackson. The witness said he and his cousin were “just having a laugh” and denied that he told Jackson and his cousin that the deceased would “box the two of you” or “do the two of you in”. He further denied that he and his friends were “spoiling for a fight” and said he did not take off his belt or act aggressively in any way towards the defendant.

It was the prosecution’s contention that Jackson had deployed his SUV as a murder weapon “as sure and as clear” as if it was a gun or a knife.

Mr Kelly reminded the jury of the pattern of blue fabric marks found on the footpath from Mr Sheehy’s clothing, which told a story “with a directness that words can’t match”. “Imagine hearing of his last moments through the fabrics left on the road,” he added.

Derek Hanlon told the nine-day trial how Mr Sheehy fought to get up off the ground before the SUV ran him over at speed. “People were screaming. The SUV tried to go for all of us then,” Mr Hanlon said.

In her charge to the jury last Friday, Ms Justice Eileen Creedon told them they must decide if the accused was provoked before he repeatedly ran over Mr Sheehy in his vehicle.

Following the verdict, Ms Justice Creedon thanked the jury for the time and attendance, which they gave to the matter.

The judge exempted the five men and five women from jury service for seven years.

Ms Justice Creedon will hand down the mandatory sentence of life imprisonment to Jackson next Tuesday and remanded the accused in custody until that date.

On that date, the Sheehy family will have an opportunity to make a statement to the court about the impact Kevin’s death has had on their lives.