FIVE-TIME All-Ireland winning Limerick hurler Kyle Hayes “kicked and punched” a man who was lying defenceless on a street after becoming “upset” that the alleged victim had spoken to two women in a nightclub he was socialising in, a court heard today.
Mr Hayes “fled’ from the scene of the alleged attack outside the Icon nightclub, Upper Denmark Street, Limerick City, and was arrested by Gardaí a short time later, the court heard.
Two Gardaí allegedly witnessed Mr Hayes and others attacking the alleged victim outside the nightclub on October 28 2019.
Mr Hayes (25), of Ballyashea, Kildimo, County Limerick, went on trial today before Limerick Circuit Criminal Court charged with one count of assault causing harm to Cillian McCarthy, (24), of Toureen, Ballysimon, County Limerick, outside the Icon nightclub in the early hours of the morning in question.
The four-time All-Star Limerick hurler is also charged with two counts of committing violent disorder, including one earlier occasion inside the nightclub and later on during the alleged street attack on Mr McCarthy.
A co-accused, Craig Cosgrave (24), of Caherally, Grange, County Limerick, is charged with violent disorder inside the Icon nightclub on the same date.
A third accused, Jai Chaudri (22), of Carheeny, Kildimo, is also charged with assault causing harm to Mr McCarthy and with one count of violent disorder outside the nightclub on the same date.
All three have pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Prosecution Counsel, John O’Sullivan BL, told the jury they would hear evidence that Cillian McCarthy, whom he described as a “hard working, honest, and truthful” qualified carpenter, had been socialising in the Icon in the company of Craig Cosgrave “who, at the time, was a friend of his”.
“Cillian McCarthy got talking to two girls and it appears that Kyle Hayes was upset about this,” Mr O’Sullivan said.
“Putting it in plain terms, Cillian McCarthy was set upon by Kyle Hayes and others, and numerous punches were thrown.”
Mr O’Sullivan told the jury they would see CCTV footage harvested by Gardaí from the nightclub and other local bars and clubs “which will tell you what happened”.
“It is the prosecution’s case that Kyle Hayes and others pursued Cillian McCarthy outside the nightclub and that Kyle Hayes attacked Cillian McCarthy on the public street.”
Mr O’Sullivan said Jai Chaudri joined Mr Hayes in assaulting Mr McCarthy, while he lay on the ground, and that Mr Cosgrave had been involved in using or threatening to use unlawful violence.
Mr O’Sullivan said there was no CCTV footage of the alleged attack on the street, but that two Gardaí, who “are very important witnesses” and who were on the scene at the time, “will give evidence that they saw Kyle Hayes and others punch and kick Cillian McCarthy while he was down on the ground”.
“You will hear evidence that Kyle Hayes fled the scene and he was captured (by Gardaí) a short time later.”
Mr McCarthy suffered a number of facial injuries including a fracture to his right eye socket.
“None of these accused men had been under any threat whatsoever … and the violence inflicted on Cillian McCarthy was totally unjustified,” the court heard.
In summing up his introduction, Mr O’ Sullivan said: “Cillian McCarthy offended Kyle Hayes by simply engaging in conversation with two girls – that’s it, that’s what started it all off.”
Turning to the jury, he added: “Yes, you might say this was trivial, but sadly the actions of Kyle Hayes and others was not trivial … There wasn’t the slightest justification or the violence inflicted on Cillian McCarthy.”
When the court resumed after lunch, Detective Garda Barry Moylan, Henry Street Garda Station, played in court CCTV footage taken from inside the Icon nightclub, showing a fight breaking out on the club’s dancefloor on the night in question.
Under cross examination by Craig Cosgrave’s barrister, Seamus Roche SC, Detective Garda Moylan said that, from watching the CCTV footage, it appeared that Kyle Hayes and another unidentified male had “instigated” the dancefloor fight.
Detective Moylan said he accepted that Mr Cosgrave was “not the instigator” of the dancefloor melee.
He said Mr Cosgrave had thrown a punch during the melee that connected with a female bouncer, and accepted that Mr Cosgrave got involved in the brawl as he was “concerned” for Mr McCarthy’s welfare.
Garda Moylan also agreed with Mr Roche that it was alleged Kyle Hayes had approached Mr McCarthy and Mr Cosgrave earlier on the night in Smyth’s Bar, located on the ground floor of the nightclub, and that words were exchanged between the group.
The CCTV footage from the dancefloor later on in the night appeared to show Kyle Hayes again approaching Mr McCarthy moments before punches were thrown.
Garda Moylan agreed that the footage appeared to show Mr McCarthy being pulled before a number of punches rained down on him “by a number of individuals”.
“There’s a number of strikes from numerous individuals, including Kyle Hayes, which is discernible from the CCTV footage,” Garda Moylan said.
Other footage shown to the court showed Mr McCarthy being followed out of the venue by Kyle Hayes.
Footage also showed Kyle Hayes, another man, and Cillian McCarthy involved in what appeared to be a further exchange of words.
More CCTV footage played in court showed Mr McCarthy walking away from a group that included Kyle Hayes and co-accused Jai Chaudri.
It’s alleged Gardaí later saw Mr Hayes and Mr Chaudri kicking and punching Mr McCarthy while he was lying on a street near the nightclub.
Garda Moylan gave evidence that CCTV footage from the area showed Mr Hayes receiving a grey-coloured hoody from another male and putting the garment on him. Both men are seen on footage running along Upper Denmark Street and away from the nightclub.
Under further cross examination, Garda Moylan agreed with Mr Hayes barrister, Brian McInerney SC, that Mr Hayes left the nightclub “under his own steam”, while Mr McCarthy had been “ejected” from the club by security staff.
The trial continues tomorrow (Wednesday).