FIVE-time All-Ireland winning Limerick hurler Kyle Hayes told Gardaí after his arrest, on suspicion of assaulting a man outside a local nightclub, that he did not carry out the attack.
The star hurler did however admit during Garda interviews that he “ran away” from the scene of the alleged assault, his trial heard today (Wednesday).
Mr Hayes (25), of Ballyashea, Kildimo, before Limerick Circuit Criminal court, denied two counts of violent disorder and one count of assault causing harm to Cillian McCarthy (24), outside the Icon nightclub in Limerick City in October 2019.
Two Gardaí, who responded to fighting outside the nightclub on the night, 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.
Gardaí said they told Mr Hayes to stop, but he broke free from their grip and ran.
Gardaí chased the Limerick hurler on foot and eventually apprehended him a few streets away.
Today 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, where he had his fingerprints and palms scanned and his photograph and DNA taken, it was heard.
Mr Hayes told Gardaí he loved being a member of the Limerick senior hurling team that won the county’s first All-Ireland for 45 years in 2018.
However, he said his public status was “not easy” to deal with.
The court heard that Mr Hayes told Gardaí: “If you want to go somewhere quiet or go out for some dinner, someone comes up to talk or get a photograph.”
When Gardaí asked if he felt that “people want to take you down”, Mr Hayes replied “sometimes”.
“Did that happen here?” Gardaí asked, to which he replied “that’s part of it”.
Mr Hayes said he did not often socialise in public except for “after big matches”.
Cillian McCarthy gave evidence last week that Mr Hayes confronted him earlier on the night in question inside Smyths Bar, on the ground floor of the Icon nightclub, and warned him to “stay the f-ck away” from two girls he was talking to.
Mr McCarthy said Mr Hayes became “aggressive” and asked him “do you know who the f-ck 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 on 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 an attempt 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 Cillian 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 star hurler admitted in interviews that he ran away after Gardaí arrived on the scene.
“They arrived and started roaring at me and I ran away,” Mr Hayes told Gardaí.
When asked why Gardaí had roared at him, Mr Hayes said that “they probably knew my face”.
When asked if he felt Gardaí were “against” him, he replied, “I wouldn’t say that”.
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 Gardaí were making a fuss. I didn’t see anything, I just wanted to get out of there.”
Craig Cosgrave (24), of Caherally, Grange, County Limerick, denied a single count of violent disorder inside Icon nightclub on the night.
The prosecution rested its case today.
Closing submissions from the prosecution and defence counsels are due to be heard tomorrow morning (Thursday) before the jury retires to consider its verdict.