banged up | 

Gang jailed for murder and robbery of Irishman Tom Kennedy (28) in Georgia

The offenders had attacked the Mayo man on October 7 in Gori before throwing him into the Mtkvari River

Tom Kennedy

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

Four men have been handed down sentences of between 20 and 21 years in prison for the group robbery and murder of Irishman Tom Kennedy in Georgia last year.

The Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia announced yesterday that a minor had also been sentenced to six years in prison at Central Georgia’s Gori City Court for failing to report the crime.

The announcement said the Office’s evidence confirmed the offenders had attacked the Mayo man on October 7 in Gori before throwing him into the Mtkvari River.

They also took the victim’s mobile phone, credit card and money.

Law enforcement also found the offenders had later told the minor about the murder, which the latter failed to report to police.

Tom’s body was found on Friday, October 8.

It is believed he got into a physical confrontation with five local men. Four out of the five were later accused of Thomas' murder with another one, the minor, charged for failing to report the crime.

Police said the five charged were drinking in the city with Thomas at a bar, but later a verbal dispute broke out which led to a fight.

The young Mayo musician was allegedly attacked by the group who took his mobile phone out of his pocket and then threw his unconscious body into the nearby Mtkvari River in Gori.

After police discovered Thomas' body his mobile phone was later found at a pawnshop several days later after his alleged murder.

In October last year, mourners at his funeral mass heard his family describe him as their shining star.

People attending the funeral in St Patrick's Church, Lahardane, wore bright colours at the service as they celebrated his life.

The family of the 28-year old, described as a “joyful and vibrant young man” had said before mass that “Tom brought brightness with him wherever he went and to whoever he met on his life’s journey.

“As a family we would like everyone to wear some colour in their clothing to celebrate his life.”

Speaking at his mass today, his family said they “were heartbroken and devastated at the loss of our beautiful son and brother Tom”.

“But we're also honoured so I have the opportunity to reflect on his life with you today,” one family member said.

“With Tom his family always came first, or maybe a close second after music.

"He was such a polite, well-mannered lad, always mindful to never cause upset to anyone.

He was kind, funny and extremely generous in every way.

“We’re the luckiest family as we had 28 years with Tom's unique, quirky, eccentric beautiful soul.

“Today we'll share with you just how much he meant to his family and ask all of you to pray for us as we learn what it means to move forward without Tom in our lives.”

The congregation was told Tom and Pat, his twin brother, came into the world April 30, 1993.

“Tom from the get-go was quiet, the opposite to his noisy brother Pat,” they heard. “From the womb they shared an unbreakable bond up to Tom's passing.

“It wasn't just Pat, Tom got on with all his brothers, they were all great friends.

“All of you sat here today who knew Tom and were blessed to know him on a personal level will tell you and everyone how he touched our lives like no other.

“He was gifted into his music but also without him realising he had a gift with people, and anyone who ever connected with Tom remained lifelong friends.”

The mass was told that Tom was only in Georgia for a “short while, roughly five weeks”, and the locals in Tbilisi where he rented an apartment spoke highly of him, “the happy lad who graced their shops and cafes”.

“He had a special kindness to him, it was infectious, just like his laugh.”

The service was told he had great nights out with his brothers and his cousins.

“One night out in Galway with his cousin Andrew they had been in a nightclub and had their faces painted with black stripes under their eyes.

“They both left to go home without realising they had no money in their pockets. They jumped into a taxi and had no choice but to get out and run.

“The driver gave chase, but they managed to escape, and ran off in different directions.

Andy got stopped by the guards and just as he was explaining his story in the distance, they can see this fellow running down the road with a T shirt wrapped around his head black stripes on his face, bare chested and Andy shouted, ‘that’s Tom’. He got thick with Andy because he wasn't in disguise.

The guards did see the funny side and they said, ‘you and Tarzan better go and get yourself to A&E'.”

Mourners were told that whatever Tom was passionate about, he excelled at.

“He was good at football, he was fearless on motorbikes, he was a genius with music, and he was also a great welder.

“But the real passion of the was undoubtedly the music.

“Tom found the love of his life; he took to the guitar like a duck to water. He had one lesson at school. He came home, went on YouTube, taught himself and the rest is history as they say.”

He battled his own demons in his 20s as he suffered with anxiety, and he turned to drink as a coping mechanism. It came to a head almost three years ago, when he came to his mum and dad, and he said he needed help.

“Tom was treated for four weeks, and he came out a completely new man. He had overcome adversity and his real personality shone like a beacon.

“Tom was kindness personified who never had a bad word to say about anyone. You all know how bright Tom was. He was a shining star in our family, and we will love him forever.”

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