Barrister for Limerick hurler asks jury to return verdict that will “give him back his life”

Five-time All-Ireland winning hurler Kyle Hayes appeared before the courts today charged with assault causing harm to Cillian McCarthy. Photo: Brendan Gleeson.

THE jury in the trial of Kyle Hayes, who denies assault and violent disorder, was asked today (Thursday) by his barrister to “give him his life back” after he said the All-Star hurler had waited four agonising years for the case be brought to trial.

Mr Hayes, a five-time All-Ireland hurling champion, is accused of being part of a “mob” that “chased”, “punched”, “stamped on” and “kicked” Cillian McCarthy (24), during a “vicious and sustained attack” outside the Icon nightclub in Limerick City on October 28, 2019.

Mr Hayes is also alleged to have punched Mr McCarthy on the dancefloor of the nightclub after squaring up to him and his friend Craig Cosgrave earlier on the night as he did not like that they were talking to two females who he knew, one of whom was seeing a friend of his at the time.

Mr Hayes denies these accusations, specifically one count of assault causing harm to Mr McCarthy, as well as two counts of violent disorder.

Craig Cosgrave (24), from Caherally, Grange, County Limerick, who allegedly threw punches on the dancefloor while defending himself and Mr McCarthy, is charged with violent disorder in the club.

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Earlier in the trial, Judge Dermot Sheehan told the jury to discharge themselves regarding charges against Jai Chaudri (22), of Carheeny, Kildimo, who was accused of assault causing harm to Mr McCarthy and one count of violent disorder.

Two Gardaí told the trial they saw Kyle Hayes kicking a male on the ground outside the Icon nightclub.

One of the Gardaí, Detective Garda Dean Landers, said he told Kyle Hayes to remain where he was and that Mr Hayes broke free from his grip and ran away.

Detective Garda Landers said he “chased” the Limerick hurler, repeatedly shouting “Gardaí, stop” but he kept running before the detective eventually caught up with the Limerick hurler and arrested him.

During interviews with Gardaí, Mr Hayes denied assaulting Mr McCarthy and he admitted running away because he said Gardaí were “roaring” at him.

He told Gardaí he eventually stopped running because he thought running away “made me look guilty”.

Another witness, Christopher Heelan, told the court he saw Kyle Hayes “punch” and “stand on” Mr McCarthy outside the Icon nightclub.

Mr McCarthy gave evidence that Mr Hayes approached himself and Craig Cosgrave in Smyths Bar earlier on the night and warned them to “stay the f-ck away” from two females, who both men were friends with.

Mr McCarthy said Mr Hayes later “charged” towards him on the dancefloor and punched him in the head a number of times.

He told the jury that CCTV footage they had seen “clearly” showed Kyle Hayes “punching me”.

Mr McCarthy said he was chased and tripped outside the club and that Kyle Hayes and others stamped on, kicked, and punched him while he was on the ground.

In his closing address to the jury, prosecution counsel John O’Sullivan BL said it was “clear” that Mr Hayes was the “aggressor” on the night, and Mr McCarthy was not a threat to him.

Mr O’Sullivan said Mr Hayes’ “outburst of violence” on the dancefloor could “not be justified”.

He suggested that Mr Hayes “ran off” after the alleged assault outside the club “because he knew he was in trouble and he knew he had assaulted Cillian”.

He said Kyle Hayes’ “credibility” was “greatly undermined” by his responses to Gardaí following his arrest.

Counsel for Craig Cosgrave, Seamus Roche SC, told the jury: “Whatever force Craig Cosgrave used, it was not unlawful, it was justified.”

“He (Mr Cosgrave) perceived his friend to be in imminent danger.”

Mr Roche said Mr Hayes acted aggressively towards Mr Cosgrave in Smyths Bar.

He suggested that CCTV footage, which was shown to the jury, appeared to show Mr Hayes grabbing Mr Cosgrave by the head on the dancefloor and saying something to him.

Mr Roche said Mr Cosgrave did not engage in violent disorder, and had acted out of “concern” for himself and Mr McCarthy.

“He (Mr Cosgrave) went in self defence of his friend. It was what any good friend would do. It was the honorable thing to do.”

Mr O’Sullivan, prosecuting, said the State had proven its case against the two accused.

He said punches allegedly thrown by Mr Cosgrave on the dancefloor “could not be justified”.

Kyle Hayes’ barrister, Brian McInerney SC, said Mr Hayes denies all of the charges.

He offered that, had Mr Hayes and others had been kicking and stamping on Mr McCarthy, “where are the injuries to support that”.

He suggested Cillian McCarthy was “angry” on the night and “started this”, and that Kyle Hayes had tried to defend himself in the club.

He said that CCTV footage shown to the jury appeared to show Mr McCarthy being “thrown out” of the club by security staff.

“Kyle Hayes was not thrown out – what does that tell you?”.

In conclusion, Mr McInerney told the jury: “I give to you the life of Kyle Hayes. Whatever happens, this trial and verdict will follow him into the grave, whether it is a verdict of guilty or not guilty.”

“This has been hanging over Kyle Hayes for four long years – I ask you to give him back his life.

“Take back this chalice of torture from his lips and return him the bosom of his family.”

Prosecution and defence counsel’s speeches concluded today and Judge Dermot Sheehan will continue charging the jury tomorrow morning.