Alleged killers of Tom Kennedy ‘stole phone and pawned it for less than €100’


THE alleged killers of Irish musician Thomas Kennedy stole his phone and pawned it for less than €100, a court in Georgia has heard.

Mayo man Tom was “attacked and thrown unconscious into a river” while travelling in the Eastern European country of Georgia.

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Tragic Tom Kennedy
Tom was a talented musician

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Tom was a talented musician

He was allegedly killed by a gang of five men in a robbery gone wrong, and was thrown into a river alive after they believed he was dead, a court was told.

The talented singer/songwriter, 28, was on holiday in Georgia when he was invited to have a drink with the group of men.

However three days later Thomas, from Lahardaun, Co Mayo was found washed up in the Mtkvari river near Gori.

All five men who were arrested on suspicion of his murder denied in court that they had killed the tourist.

Four of the accused admitted to mugging Thomas and stealing his phone, which they later pawned for around €90. A fifth man was being held for failing to report the murder.

Mr Kennedy was born in Manchester but lived in Ireland all his life with his Irish grandparents.

His cousin Olivia Barrett yesterday told the Irish Sun: “My family would love for people to know how talented beautiful Tom was.

“He was a self taught musician with so much talent. Singer/songwriter, guitarist, fiddle player and many more. 

“He was a proud Mayo man, he loved his beloved home of Lahardaun.

“He was so gentle and kind, the funniest person you could meet he wouldn’t harm a fly.”

Thomas was often seen busking on streets in Castlebar, Galway and Cork and before travelling to Georgia at the end of August.

He is survived by his parents Eddie and Cathy Kennedy, his six brothers and extended family.

Olivia 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?”

FAMILY HURT

“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.”

JUSTICE WAIT

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.”

Prosecutors told the court how Thomas had struck up a conversation street busker Vasil Okropiridze, 24, who invited him to join his friends for a drink, reported The Times.

But it’s alleged that the meeting later turned violent and Kennedy was beaten and then thrown into the river.

The court heard that his phone was later found in a local pawn shop, and this prompted a police investigation.

‘AMAZING GENTLEMAN’

And cops said that their investigation suggested that Kennedy was alive but unconscious when he was thrown into the river. 

The court was told that the men had panicked after the robbery, thinking that they had killed him.

Giorgi Balashvili, 28, Zura Palavandishvili, 19, Giorgi Okhanashvili, 17, and Giorgi Kareli, 20, deny murder but admit robbery. 

They claim that Kennedy was running away from the fight when he fell into the river. 

Okropiridze has denied involvement in the robbery and Kennedy’s death.

‘PREMEDITATED MURDER’

Mikheil Beriashvili, a prosecutor, told the court: “The prosecution is not satisfied with the defence’s argument that the victim himself jumped or fell into river.

“We believe we are dealing with a premeditated murder in order to destroy the incriminating evidence of another crime — robbing. This was also carried out against a person who was helpless.”

All five accused have been detained by a court for two months – and face from 13 to 17 years in prison if found guilty.

FAMILY FUNDRAISER

Thomas’s former club Lahardane MacHales GAA club said: “Farewell to a former North Mayo winning Captain of ours; Thomas (Tom) Kennedy cruelly taken in the prime of his life, he was one of the most chirpy lads around…ever smiling as he’d say “Nice one Bud” and “Cheers Bud”.

“Rest in peace 💔”

The Go Fund Me Page for his repatriation has already raised over €50,000 with tributes being paid to Tom and his family.

Olivia said: “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.”

This family also shared a link for people to hear Thomas’s music.





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