Jury retires in trial of Limerick hurler accused of assault and violent disorder

The jury retired this morning to consider its verdict at Limerick Circuit Criminal Court. Photo: Brendan Gleeson.

THE jury in the trial of five-time All-Ireland winning Limerick hurler Kyle Hayes, who is accused of assault and violent disorder, today (Friday) retired to consider its verdict at Limerick Circuit Criminal Court.

Mr Hayes (25), is accused of having been part of a “mob” that “chased”, “punched”, “stamped” and “kicked” Cillian McCarthy (24), during a “vicious and sustained attack” outside the Icon nightclub in Limerick City on October 28, 2019.

The four-time All Star hurler is also alleged to have punched Mr McCarthy on the dancefloor of the nightclub, after having earlier squared up to him and Mr McCarthy’s friend, Craig Cosgrave (24).

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

That court heard Mr Hayes, Ballyashea, Kildimo, was upset that Mr McCarthy had been speaking to two women on the night in question, one of whom was seeing a friend of his at the time.

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Mr Cosgrave, from Caherally, Grange, County Limerick, who allegedly threw punches on the dancefloor while trying defend himself and Mr McCarthy, is charged with violent disorder in the club.

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.

Yesterday, in his closing speech, Mr Hayes’s barrister, senior counsel Brian McInerney, asked the jury to give Mr Hayes “his life back”.

Mr McInerney said the last four years waiting for the trial were an “torture” for Mr Hayes.

Two Gardaí gave evidence they saw Mr Hayes kicking a male on the ground outside the Icon nightclub on the night.

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

Detective Garda Landers said he “chased” the Limerick hurler, repeatedly shouting “Gardai, stop”, but he kept running.

The detective eventually caught up with the Limerick hurler and arrested him.

During interviews with Gardaí, Mr Hayes denied assaulting Mr McCarthy and 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.

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 Kyle Hayes was the “aggressor” on the night, and Mr McCarthy was not a threat to the hurler.

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

He said suggested that Kyle 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 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, senior counsel Brian McInerney, 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 yesterday, Mr McInerney told the jury: “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.”