Row over late night noise sees father of five jailed following assault on ’gentle’ man who later died

By Aoife Nic Ardghail and Fiona Ferguson

A Kildare father-of-five who admitted assaulting a “popular, gentle” man who later died has been jailed for two and a half years.

Construction worker Paul Gill (37) of Sarto Road, Naas, Co Kildare, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assaulting the deceased Patrick “Patsy” Kelly (58) and his former neighbour, Martin Curtis, on August 22, 2015.

Bernadette and Brendan Kelly outside court yesterday with family and friends holding a picture of their late brother Patrick “Patsy” Kelly after the sentencing hearing of Paul Gill for assault causing harm to their brother Patrick “Patsy” Kelly at Sarto Road, Naas in August, 2015. Picture: Courtpix

He had pleaded not (NOT) guilty to unlawfully killing Mr Kelly during the same incident and was acquitted of manslaughter after a six-day trial last month.

The jury in the trial heard evidence that the row was over late-night drinking and noise at Mr Curtis’s home on Sarto Road spanning seven years.

Eye-witnesses described seeing Gill confront the deceased outside Mr Curtis’s house that night and punch him in the face. Gill then dragged Mr Kelly up to eight metres from Mr Curtis’s front door to the road and kicked him once in the head.

Gill then attacked Mr Curtis when he arrived on the scene, Detective Garda Enda Coleman told Orla Crowe SC, prosecuting, during the sentence hearing last week.

Emergency services arrived and administered continuous CPR to Mr Kelly, but he died. Post-mortem evidence in the trial revealed Mr Kelly died from heart disease and that the minor trauma from the assault was a contributing factor.

Today Judge Melanie Greally noted Mr Kelly was a popular man who was greatly loved and that the circumstances of his death had been extremely distressing to his family.

Judge Greally said that the aggravating factors of the case included the fact that Mr Kelly, who was vulnerable and intoxicated, had been taken by surprise by the assault and was totally incapable of defending himself. She noted he had been kicked to head while on the ground.

She noted in mitigation that Gill had entered a guilty plea, made admissions and expressed remorse.

She said that Gill had a difficult upbringing but now had a stable and supportive marriage and young family as well as a strong work history.

She noted the effects of his bail conditions had a punitive effect on his life. One of the conditions of his bail was that he had to stay out of Kildare, apart from weekends when he could visit his family within their home.

Paul Gill (37) of Sarto Road, Naas, Co Kildare, pictured arriving to Circuit Criminal Court in Dublin this morning where he was sentences to two and a half years for assault causing harm to Patrick Patsy Kelly in Naas in August, 2015. Picture: Collins Courts

Judge Greally said she accepted Gill could not have known of Mr Kelly’s heart condition.

She noted the maximum sentence for this offence was five years. Taking all the circumstances into account she imposed a two and a half year sentence on Gill in relation to the assault on Mr Kelly and took the assault on Mr Curtis into account.

At last week’s hearing Det Gda Coleman agreed with Seamus Clarke SC, defending, that Gill was visibly upset in interview after arrest.

He agreed that Gill had vague recollection of what had happened because he’d been drinking but that he had answered all questions and admitted the assaults.

In her victim impact statement, Mr Kelly’s sister said her family have been left with deep psychological scars.

Bernadette Kelly described her deceased brother as “kind and caring and extremely thoughtful” and said she still sets a place for him at her table at Christmas time.

She finished her statement saying: “No-one has the right to take the law into their own hands”.

Mr Clarke had asked Judge Greally to be lenient on his client, taking into account that Gill has also been “distressed and traumatised” by what has happened.

He submitted that Gill is a hard working man who has had difficulties and tragedy in his own background.

Det Gda Coleman told Ms Crowe that the deceased Mr Kelly was so well-known and liked in Naas that the trial had to be transferred to Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

He said on August 22, 2015, Mr Kelly had spent time drinking with friends in a car park beside the town council building. He said this was “not atypical” as Mr Kelly had had difficulties with alcohol throughout his life.

He said Gill had also been drinking that day at a local hotel and then later with his family at home.

The detective told the court that Mr Kelly had followed three of his friends to Mr Curtis’s flat which was next door to Gill’s home.

One eye-witness said she saw Gill confront Mr Kelly, punch the deceased, drag him to the road and kick him in the head.

Det Gda Coleman told Ms Crowe that there was no evidence that Mr Kelly put up any resistance.

He said Mr Curtis arrived to see his friend Mr Kelly on the ground. Mr Curtis later described being punched and knocked off his feet, but he didn’t require medical treatment.

The detective told Ms Crowe that gardaí started CPR on Mr Kelly at the scene and emergency services later took over.

He said Gill answered all questions after his arrest, admitted punching the deceased up to five times and had a vague recollection of kicking him.

The detective agreed with Mr Clarke that his client had offered to plead guilty to the assaults, but that this was not accepted by the Director of Public Prosecutions and the matter proceeded to trial.

He further agreed that one of Gill’s bail conditions was that he had to stay out of Kildare, apart from weekends when he could visit his family within their home.

Det Gda Coleman accepted that Gill missed the birth of his two youngest children as he had to move back to the Aran Islands and missed the ferry crossing.

He agreed that Gill expressed remorse and sorrow during interview and stated that he didn’t mean for events to take the course they did.

Mr Kelly’s brother, reading from his victim impact statement, described feeling as if he was in a dream and it was a “sick joke”.

Brendan Kelly said he was thankful his parents had passed away before his brother’s death as it “would have killed them both”.

He said he found it hard to walk in the direction his brother would have taken and that he often went to the graveyard to apologise for not being there to protect him.

“I know full well Patsy would say, ’It’s ok, it’s ok’ because he was kind and forgiving in his nature”, Mr Kelly said.

Mr Kelly’s youngest sister, Carmel Kelly, read from her victim impact statement and described being a “changed person”.

She said she sometimes gets a pain in her chest and wants to scream because she doesn’t want to think about how her brother died.

Bernadette Kelly said the August date would “be forever etched in our hearts for the rest of our lives”.

She described how her brother was a “great friend to a lot of people” and how he had once talked a young man out of taking his life. She said her brother never spoke of the deed because he saw it as his duty.

Gill’s uncle by marriage, Michael Kelly, gave evidence as part of the defence plea of mitigation. He described how Gill’s father died from cancer when he was nine years old.

He said Gill’s mother had severe mental health problems and that the house fell into an “awful bad state of disrepair” after the father’s death.

Mr Kelly said he and his wife provided meals and toiletries to Gill and his brother, who then died tragically in his teens. He said Gill is a hard worker as fisherman and concrete finisher and didn’t rely on State services during the recession.

Mr Clarke submitted to Judge Greally that it had been “difficult living next door to Mr Curtis”. He asked the judge to take into consideration the background to the case and that Mr Kelly had been a frequent visitor.

KEYWORDS: Court, Paul Gill


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