The judge in the trial of Limerick hurler Kyle Hayes warned that the five-time All-Ireland winner is facing the prospect of a custodial sentence after he was convicted by a jury of two counts of violent disorder.
Judge Dermot Sheehan said Hayes’s use or threatened use of violence on the dance floor of Icon nightclub in Limerick city was “extremely dangerous” to the large numbers of people who were attending the club on October 28th, 2019.
The judge said Hayes' conviction for “serious matters” meant his status before the courts had changed, and he could “expect a custodial sentence”.
Judge Sheehan said convictions on contested charges of violent disorder would “usually” be dealt with by way of an immediate remand in custody, but he agreed to an application by Hayes’s barrister, Brian McInerney SC, for “a remand on bail”.
Judge Sheehan warned Mr McInerney not to take his decision to grant bail as how he intended to dispose of the sentence.
The judge told Mr McInerney he was “making no promises”, and that the barrister now had an opportunity to seek “testimonials” on behalf of Hayes which the court would consider prior to sentencing.
The jury of seven men and five women at Limerick Circuit Criminal Court acquitted Hayes (25), of Ballyashea, Kildimo, of a charge, which he also denied, of assault causing harm to Cillian McCarthy outside the nightclub on the same date as the violent disorder.
The two-week trial heard allegations that Hayes and others attacked Mr McCarthy on the dancefloor of the club, repeatedly punching him in the head, after Hayes had earlier warned Mr McCarthy and his friend Craig Cosgrave to “stay the f**k away” from two women, who were friends of the two men.
Mr Cosgrave, who the court heard was trying to defend Mr McCarthy during the dance floor brawl, was acquitted of violent disorder in the club on the night.
Mr McCarthy gave evidence that Hayes was “aggressive” and shouted at him, “do you know who the f**k I am” after Mr McCarthy tried to explain that he and Mr Cosgrave were just talking to two women, one of whom was seeing a friend of Hayes.
A number of witnesses told the court they saw Mr McCarthy with blood on his face and a swollen eye outside the club after the brawl.
They said Mr McCarthy told them that Kyle Hayes had attacked him inside the club, and that he was waiting for his friend, Mr Cosgrave, to come out of the club.
The prosecution claimed Mr McCarthy rushed to Mr Cosgrave’s aid after he was set upon by a group of men outside the club. It alleged Kyle Hayes and others chased Mr McCarthy along Upper Denmark Street before they punched, kicked and stamped on him as he lay cowering on the ground.
Two gardaí told the court when they arrived on scene they saw Kyle Hayes kicking a male who was lying on the ground.
One of the officers, Det Garda Dean Landers, said he identified himself as a garda to Hayes and told him to stay where he was while holding him at the scene.
“He [Kyle Hayes] told me to f**k off, he pulled his arm, at force, away from my grip and he turned and ran,” Det Gda Landers told the court.
He said he repeatedly shouted after Hayes “gardaí, stop”, but Hayes kept running. The Limerick hurler was eventually apprehended by Det Gda Landers several streets away.
Garda Daniel O’Riordan also gave an eyewitness account of seeing Hayes kicking a male on the ground on the night. He said he had “absolutely no doubt” it was Kyle Hayes “kicking forward into the man’s head and shoulder area, twice”.
The gardaí agreed there was no CCTV footage of the alleged attack on Upper Denmark Street, and they accepted there was “chaos” and “confusion” on the street, as hundreds of people spilled out of the nightclub.
Hayes admitted in garda interviews that he ran from gardaí, telling them: “I just wanted to get out of there, I didn't want to get dragged into it.”
Hayes denied assaulting Mr McCarthy but told gardaí he eventually stopped running from them on the night because he feared running would have “made me look guilty”.
Following his conviction, Hayes was remanded on bail of his own bond of €100 and with strict conditions to appear before Limerick Circuit Criminal Court for sentencing on January 19th, 2024.
Hayes agreed to give gardaí his passport and not apply for any new travel documents, and obey a nightly curfew (10.30pm-6am), and not commit any further offences while on bail.
Speaking afterwards, Craig Cosgrave, who was embraced by his family, said he was “delighted” he had been found not guilty and all he had done was try and “protect” himself and Mr McCarthy on the night.
“I’m delighted it's all over, it has been a very overwhelming two weeks, and I’m delighted I’ve been found innocent – A not guilty verdict was the right result, so I’m pleased with that.”
“I just graduated from college so I’m going to pursue a job in engineering.”