Victim Impact  | 

Family of murdered boxer Kevin Sheehy tell of their trauma and grief after loss of 'hero'

'Not only did I lose my son but I also lost my best friend'
Family and supporters of murdered Limerick boxer, Kevin Sheehy, gather outside court. PIC: Collins Courts

Family and supporters of murdered Limerick boxer, Kevin Sheehy, gather outside court. PIC: Collins Courts

Alison O'Riordan

The family of Irish boxing champion Kevin Sheehy have spoken of the pain and suffering they have experienced since his brutal murder two years ago.

They were speaking as part of emotional victim impact statements read today to the Central Criminal Court, where 31-year-old Jackson was sentenced to the mandatory term of life imprisonment for murdering Mr Sheehy.

Last Monday, Jackson of Longford Road, Coventry, England was found guilty by unanimous jury verdict of murdering Mr Sheehy (20) at Hyde Road in Limerick city on July 1, 2019. He had pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter.

The defendant, who has a prosthetic leg, was also found guilty last week on a second charge of endangerment. A concurrent sentence of seven years was imposed on this count today.

Jackson had denied intentionally or recklessly engaging in conduct which created a substantial risk of death or serious harm to others to wit; driving a Mitsubishi jeep vehicle dangerously at high speed in the direction of pedestrians on the same occasion.

The Central Criminal Court trial heard that the five times Irish boxing champion fought to get up off the ground after he was first hit but the UK-registered Mitsubishi Shogun jeep ran him over twice again at speed.

The jury agreed with the prosecution's case that Jackson had deployed his jeep as a murder weapon "as sure and as clear" as if it was a gun or a knife.

Tracey Tully, mother of Kevin Sheehy, said she was in court today to give her victim impact statement about the impact Kevin's life being taken "has had and is still having" on her life, her daughter's life and Kevin's daughter's life.

She said her son "was a fighter from birth".

"The impact that July 1 2019 has had on me is so traumatising to put into words. So I'll start with my grief. There's seven stages of grief but what no one can tell you is that you can be stuck in one stage for days, nights, months and years or you can have the seven in one day.

"I know I've felt the traumatising stage where I'm so confused that when I wake up in the morning and open my eyes, I pray it was a dream. 'Please let this be a dream'. But this is no dream. Then I feel sad, so sad it is unexplainable how sad I can be. I am sad for all the beautiful life that was taken from Kevin. I am sad for my life that I have lost out on with my beautiful son. Then I can be numb for days on end, so frozen in time.

"I'm still stuck on July 1 2019 and I haven't a single enthusiastic bone in my body. I see all my friends' lives move on and I am just stuck in grief and it can become a very lonely and a dark place to be. I was a strong, independent young woman who worked very hard for her little family so that's three stages I know I have faced and I know there's many more to come."

Kevin Sheehy Snr, father of murdered Limerick boxer, Kevin Sheehy, leaving court with family and supporters yesterday. PIC: Collins Courts

Kevin Sheehy Snr, father of murdered Limerick boxer, Kevin Sheehy, leaving court with family and supporters yesterday. PIC: Collins Courts

Speaking of her family's love for Kevin, Mrs Tully said she has grieved for: "My baby curly haired blue-eyed boy. My chubby awkward stage-shy boy. My very insecure teenage boy but so very handsome. My absolute giddy, funny, excited boy. My young man. And with that came confidence. It was beautiful watching Kevin grow and excel. He made life look so easy. He is the joy of my life."

She said she will never forget the morning when she was woken up to be told that her son was badly injured. "I panicked when I saw his dad's face, it was grey. But when he put his hand on my shoulder he said he was gone, we lost him. The only way I can explain it is if you see a cartoon robot self-destruct, that's how my body felt. My mind, my heart and soul could not connect and accept that this was reality.

"At the beginning I put up a big resistance. I became a hermit in my own home. My couch became my bed, my dinner table and nearly my own coffin. I lost the ability to live. I don't know how to live without Kevin. Not only did I lose my son but I also lost my best friend. I was 20-years-old when I became Kevin's mother so we grew [up] a little bit together. My Kevin was 20 years old becoming a first time and only time father."

Referring to her now 15-year-old daughter Cassidy, Mrs Tully said that Kevin was her big brother and that he was and still is her hero. "She lost her childhood on that morning, she also lost her mother. Her life will never be the same. I'm proud of the strength she has shown. Even though she was grieving the loss of her brother, her daddy figure, her hero, she always tries her best to make her mammy's grief that bit easier. He would have been a very proud big brother.

Tracey Tully, mother of murdered Limerick boxer, Kevin Sheehy, hugs a supporter outside court. PIC: Collins Courts

Tracey Tully, mother of murdered Limerick boxer, Kevin Sheehy, hugs a supporter outside court. PIC: Collins Courts

"Kevin was so sweet, very funny, kind and gentle. He was a shy little boy for the first years of his life. Just as he was becoming a teenager he found his love of sport. There wasn't a sport he didn't adapt to. Kickboxing, rugby, soccer and boxing. I must mention the sacrifice he made in life for his sport, gave up food, and nights out with friends. When he chose boxing from third year in school because Kevin knew the secret to life - Do what you are passionate at and become great at it and by God he did. Boxing was on both sides of mine and his dad's family."

In closing her statement, Mrs Tully said her son was "a true gentleman, inside and outside the ring". "Even though Kevin has passed on, I love being his mother. I'm so proud of my boy. All Kevin's hard work. Kevin has been recognised as the man he was. I hope his story may save even one life and inspire others. May my son finally now rest in peace."

Logan Jackson

Logan Jackson

The impact statement by Emma Colbert, partner of Kevin Sheehy, was read to the court on her behalf by prosecution counsel Dean Kelly SC:

"I still can't believe I will never hear his beautiful voice again. He was taken from me and my unborn baby. He was a month away from becoming a father for the first time. He never got to see his baby being born. He never got to hold her or know her name. She will have to grow the rest of her life without her daddy. She will never have her daddy and I will have to raise her alone. To think how he died, Kevin's life ended for nothing. He should not be remembered for how he died but the kind and beautiful person he was."

Cassidy Tully (15), younger sister of Kevin Sheehy told the court: "I was 12 years old when I got the worst news of my life at 4.30am: my brother got murdered. I was woken at 5.30am to be told he was gone, my brother gone. I didn't believe it, not me, not my family. To see my parents, grandparents and family heart broken and having to deal with our worlds crashing down. At the age of 12 to hear my best friend, my father figure, my one and only brother to be found dead. I still can't live with it, it breaks my heart everyday to live with the hurt and to see my family's hearts broken, he was innocent".

The impact statement by Thomas Lysaght, cousin of Kevin Sheehy, was read to the court on his behalf by prosecution counsel Dean Kelly SC:

"Kevin wasn't just my friend, he was my best friend, my cousin, he was a brother to me.

"When Kevin died a part of me went with him. All I have left are memories we shared through the years. This isn't right, not only had Kevin a little girl on the way but Kevin also had a great future ahead of him. Kevin was the most kind-hearted, funny person. There will never be anyone like Kevin.

"When Kevin asked me to be godfather to his daughter, I was so proud. But I always knew I would be, we spoke about this many a time. Life has taken a different course since Kevin was taken from us. I lost my best man to stand by my side when I marry. I've lost the godfather to my first child. The only person that really knew me more than anyone.

"The pain of losing Kevin is unbearable. I have had very dark days and nights. I have many times not wanted to be in this world. The only thing that keeps me here is knowing Kevin saved me that night and I will not let him down. I will do my best to be there for his mother, sister and baby girl.

"I will never sleep easy for the rest of my life. I hurt so much knowing I could not help or save Kevin that awful night.

"I will never get over the look on my aunt's face when I told her I could not save her Kevin.

"I now learn to live with post-traumatic stress. I have lost my laughter; I don't see the happy person I once was before. The world really has lost someone who one day would have done so much good.

"People know Kevin was a boxer but he was so much more than that. He was clever, the most funniest person who would go out of his way to help you.

"I will hold you Kevin in my heart forever. Brothers never let go".

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