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06 Dec 2021

Man jailed for 'brutal and savage' baseball attack causing life-long injuries appeals conviction

Man jailed for 'brutal and savage' baseball attack causing life-long injuries appeals conviction

A man who was jailed for nine years for a "brutal and savage" assault with a baseball bat has appealed against his conviction for the attack, which left his victim with life-changing injuries.

The victim of the attack, Eamon Sheehy, was beaten so badly that his own mother could not recognise him except for his tattoo, the sentencing court heard.

In July 2018, Sean Lane (28) of An Caislean Mor, Castleisland, Co Kerry, was jailed for nine years for assault causing serious harm to Mr Sheehy at St Stephen's Park, Castleisland on January 14, 2018. Lane had denied that charge and a further charge of producing the bat during a dispute, for which he received a concurrent three-year sentence.

Lane claimed that Mr Sheehy had come after him with a golf club and that he used the baseball bat in self-defence but the court ruled that the attack went "way beyond" self-defence.

The trial heard that paramedics who attended the scene had been unable to tell whether the injured person lying on the road was male or female, such was the extent of injuries to Mr Sheehy’s face and head.

A second male, Jason Broderick, then 21, of St John's Park, Castleisland, was sentenced to three years with one suspended for possessing the bat involved in the attack.

After hearing evidence from 40 witnesses in the trial, the jury returned unanimous guilty verdicts for both males on the three charges.

In February 2019, trial Judge Thomas O'Donnell, sitting at Kerry Circuit Criminal Court, said there had been a "brutal, savage and sustained attack" on Mr Sheehy, who the trial heard would need life-long care.

In a victim impact statement at sentencing, Mr Sheehy's mother told the court she only recognised her son from a tattoo and that his whole body had turned "purple".

On Thursday at the Court of Appeal, Séamus Clarke SC, for the appellant, told the court that Lane was appealing his conviction on the grounds that he should have had a separate trial from that of his co-accused in the case, Broderick.

Mr Clarke said there had been prejudicial material introduced into the case at trial from interviews carried out with Broderick.

Counsel said that Broderick had been quoted at the trial as having told gardaí that Lane "was in a temper" on the night and that Lane was before the courts for "breaking windows".

Mr Clarke said the defence had unsuccessfully applied for a severance on the fourth day of the trial but that a previous legal team for Lane had not done so at the outset.

Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy said the transcript of the trial referenced Broderick telling gardaí "Sean is up in court over breaking his windows, Eamon Sheehy".

Mr Clarke said these remarks would put Lane's character in a bad light in the minds of the jury.

Roisin Lacey SC, for the State, said that no application had been made to discharge the jury in the trial when Broderick's statements appeared. She said that she did not believe the reading of Broderick's comments to be "so egregious" as to make the trial unfair.

Ms Lacey said "nothing gives rise to an unfair trial, it cannot be pointed to". She said Mr Sheehy had suffered "extremely serious and extensive injuries" and that there was uncontradicted evidence presented at trial.

Counsel also said she found it "curious" that no application to sever the two cases had been made at the outset of the trial.

Mr Justice George Birmingham, presiding, said the court would reserve judgement in the matter but would deliver it "as soon as we can".

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