'Beautiful cousin' | 

Men accused of Mayo musician Thomas Kennedy's murder in Georgia remanded in custody

Police said that the five defendants had been drinking with Thomas, who was a student at a local music college in the area at a bar the night before, when a fight broke out

Thomas Kennedy

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

Five suspects who have been accused of the premeditated murder of Co Mayo musician Thomas Kennedy in Georgia have been remanded in custody by the Gori District Court.

The body of the 28-year old, from Lahardane, was found in a river in Gori, in the eastern part of the country last Friday.

Police said that the five defendants had been drinking with Thomas, who was a student at a local music college in the area at a bar the night before, when a fight broke out.

They are accused of beating him and throwing him in the nearby Mtkvari River while he was unconscious.

Thomas' body was discovered the following day while his mobile phone was found at a pawnshop several days after his murder.

Four of the detainees are charged with premeditated murder “committed in a gang”, robbery, and one with failure to report a felony.

They have pleaded not guilty, and claim that the musician was not thrown into the water but that he fell into the river while fleeing.

They also say his mobile and credit card fell into the river but it has been claimed that the defendants handed over a mobile phone to one of the pawnshops for 350 GEL (€96).

According to local media, as one of the accused is a minor, the judge closed the court session. Only the mother of the juvenile was allowed to attend the hearing.

“According to the information provided, the family members of the detainee accused of not reporting the crime, said that the police initially physically abused the detainees and obtained confessions,” local media reports.

His cousin Olivia Barrett told MidWest Radio that Tom always loved the idea of travelling and that he brought his guitar with him abroad to play music on the streets.

She said: "He loved climbing mountains, seeing beautiful views, he loved history, so he said Georgia is a beautiful country with beautiful views so why not Georgia?"

Georgia. Stock image

"Tom was my beautiful cousin, we are so hurt by his death but we are a strong family and we're going to get through it.

"He will be dancing and singing in heaven and he will be so, so proud that his music is finally getting listened to."

Olivia said that his family are still waiting for the police report to hear what exactly happened.

She said: "Hopefully justice is served over there and we will be able to go for the trial to be able to see these men put away for a very long time.

"We were hoping he would be home for the weekend but that's looking very bleak at the minute. So hopefully by early next week he will be home and we can give him the funeral he deserves and sing and have a song for him in memory of Tom."

Thomas's brother James Kennedy posted on social media: "I love you so much bro, you were the most amazing gentleman this world had to offer.

"You were too good for us all, I don’t honestly know how we will go on without you, but thank you so much for blessing us with the most amazing and funny stories we could ever wish for, and giving me 28 years of fantastic memories that an older brother could ever wish for, as I told you many times, you made me and the rest of the family so so proud.

"I’ll miss you forever Tom. I love you more than I could ever even try to describe. You legend."

Lahardane MacHales GAA also paid tribute, writing: “All at the club extend our sincere sympathies to the family and friends of the late Tom Kennedy of Massbrook who played underage football with us years ago.”

Meanwhile, a GoFundMe page set up by Olivia to bring Tom home “as soon as possible” has raised €50,271 of a €25,000 goal.

“On Friday the 9th of October our beautiful Tom was found in Mtk'uari River in Georgia,” the page reads.

“He died brutally and tragically at the hands of five evil men. We are absolutely devastated there are no words, life will never be the same again without our beautiful talented boy.”

The appeal says that is currently very difficult to repatriate Tom home “due to the Covid-19 restrictions”.

“So we are setting up this GoFundMe Page to raise funds to bring Tom home as soon as possible, this is costly, and with the help of the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust, we will get him to his beloved home of County Mayo.

“Any funds raised over what is required will be donated to the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust, which is providing invaluable support to the Kennedy and Barrett family at this extremely difficult time.

“Any donation big or small will be greatly appreciated, please share and help bring our boy home.”

People have taken to the comments section to express their sympathies.

“Heartbreaking. Sincere sympathy to his family and friends. Rest in peace Tom,” one person has written.

“Olivia and family thinking of ye all, so sorry for yer (sic) loss,” added another.

“Wherever you might be Tom, take your guitar out and light that room up mate!” one other person has written.

One person who knew Tom from college said he was “one of the funniest lads I knew with an incredible voice.”

A post on the Lahardane/Bofeenaun Community Notes Facebook page entitled ‘Bring Tom Home’ says the “whole community is shocked and saddened at news of the passing of Tom Kennedy from Massbrook Bofeenaun."

“Tom was a great young man sadly taken too early on his travels abroad,” it reads. “A repatriation fund has been set up to bring Tom home to his family.”

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