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26/07/2021

One-punch assault led to Limerick man's death

One-punch assault led to Limerick man's death

Wayne Kennedy has pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Gerard Freyne

THE family of a homeless man who died following a “one-punch assault” have said they hope what happened will act as a wake-up call for his killer.

In a victim impact statement, the family of Gerard ‘Baba’ Freyne added they hope Wayne Kennedy can turn his life around and address his alcohol addiction.

The 33-year-old, who is originally from Ballynanty,  pleaded guilty earlier this month to the manslaughter of Mr Freyne in October 2016.

The 53-year-old victim, who lived at Brother Russell House, Mulgrave Street, died at Cork University Hospital in the early hours of October 14, 2016 – almost 36 hours after he was found with serious injuries on a footpath at Lord Edward Street near its junction with Lower Carey’s Road.

During a sentencing hearing on Monday, Detective Garda Shane Ryan said the assault happened at around 7.40pm following a “chance enounter”.

Judge Tom O’Donnell was told both men had been drinking heavily on the day and that there had been an altercation between them at Parnell Street less than an hour earlier – necessitating the intervention of gardai.

Detective Garda Ryan said the fatal assault was witnessed by a number of people and was captured on CCTV. He said the two men can been seen on the footage interacting before Mr Kennedy “throws a punch” with his left hand knocking Mr Freyne to the ground.

John O’Sullivan BL, instructed by state solicitor Padráig Mawe, said a post mortem showed Mr Freyne, who was in poor health due to alcohol abuse, had sustained a brain bleed as a result of the assault.

Andrew Sexton said Mr Kennedy, who has more than 80 previous convictions, has expressed genuine remorse and had spared Mr Freyne’s family the anguish of a trial.

He said his client’s difficulties stem from his alcohol addiction and that the father-of-three is now in a stable relationship and plans to move out of Limerick when he is released.

Judge O’Donnell indicated he will finalise the matter on March 5, next.

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