The manager of the Limerick senior hurling team John Kiely has told Limerick Circuit Court that All-Ireland winning hurler Kyle Hayes has accepted responsibility for his part in a violent fracas at a nightclub in Limerick in 2019.
Mr Kiely was giving evidence at a sentencing hearing for 25-year-old Kyle Hayes who was found guilty by a jury in December last of two counts of violent disorder inside and outside the Icon nightclub on 28 October 2019.
Evidence was recalled at today’s hearing outlining how 24-year-old victim Cillian McCarthy from Ballysimon in Co Limerick was punched a number of times inside the nightclub by Hayes and others, and ended up with a serious injury to his eye.
Hayes had denied both charges. He was acquitted of a charge of assault causing harm.
Mr Kiely was called as a character witness for Hayes.
He said he knew him for seven years since he became involved with the senior hurling panel when he was 19 and would have almost daily contact with him.
He said Hayes told him of the events within 24 hours of them occurring in October 2019.
Mr Kiely said he was very disappointed when he viewed CCTV footage of the events of that night in October 2019 in light of the high standards they have set for themselves.
He described Hayes as someone he would trust, someone he could always rely on, with a very strong work ethic and strong leadership qualities who always put his team first.
He said he had tried to support him in every way over the past four years since these events happened.
In evidence he told Judge Dermot Sheehan that Hayes accepted responsibility for his part in those events, and that he had let his family and his team mates down and all those who look up to him as a role model, and that if he could roll back the clock he would do so.
However it was pointed out to Mr Kiely that despite his assertion that Hayes accepted responsibility, he has still pleaded not guilty to all three charges before the court, and that a jury had found him guilty on two of those.
Mr Kiely said it is his opinion that Hayes has accepted his responsibility and he wanted to state that as part of his testimony.
He added that he did not in the slightest condone what happened on that night in October 2019 involving Mr Hayes, but added that he has taken responsibility for his actions which were not good enough on the night.
Mr Kiely asked that Mr Hayes be given a second chance, that he very much regrets and is sorry for his part in the events of that night and has paid a heavy price for it.
The court also heard from Cillian McCarthy who was injured during the course of two incidents which were the subject of the trial.
He said he was an easy going man, who enjoyed his work as a self-employed carpenter and going out and meeting his friends, and that all that changed when he was attacked and punched in the face inside the Icon nightclub that night.
He said he was bewildered and terrified as it was completely unprovoked.
Mr McCarthy said he had to undergo surgery on his eye as a result of what happened to him and he still suffers with severe headaches and double vision.
But outside of that, he now suffers from a lack of confidence going out socially, and also shame because there were comments on social media blaming him and saying he deserved it.
He said he also took his anger and frustration out on his family and it has affected the quality of his family life.
The sentencing hearing heard that Hayes had no previous convictions and that he had done a lot of charity work over recent years.
In addition to character evidence from Mr Kiely, the hearing was presented with testimonials about his charity work from horse trainer Jim Bolger, from his employer Kiely’s electrical, from his former college University of Limerick and from St Gabriel’s school for children with special needs.
In a written testimonial Mr Bolger said Hayes had come to Carlow and helped raise over €150,000 as part of his cancer drive and that he had always found him to be reliable.
Hayes’ barrister Brian McInerney said the media coverage of the case was greatly disproportionate to the charges he faced and that what occurred was an isolated aberration in an otherwise blameless life and that Hayes had contributed enormously to society in a number of ways.
Judge Sheehan said one of the aggravating factors was the crowded nature of the club on the night of the violent disorder offence and that Hayes was in the middle of it and he did not accept defence submissions that this was at the lower end of the scale of offences.
Judge Sheehan said he had much to consider including testimonials and legal submissions and adjourned sentencing Hayes until March 20 next.