A MUSICIAN, killed by a gang of five men in a robbery gang gone wrong, was thrown into a river ALIVE after they believed he was dead, a court has heard.
Thomas Kennedy, 28, was on holiday in former Soviet Georgia when he was invited to have a drink with the group of men.
However three days later Thomas, from County Mayo, Ireland, was found washed up in the Mtkvari river near Gori.
The five men were arrested suspicion of murder – but today the group all denied in court that they had killed the tourist.
However, four of the accused did admit that they had robbed Thomas.
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, reports 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.
And cops said that their investigation suggested that Kennedy was alive but unconscious when he was chucked 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.
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.
Earlier this week Tom's cousin Olivia Barrett, from Claremorris set up an appeal to raise funds to bring Tom home to Co Mayo.
She said he died "brutally" and "life will never be the same again".
She said: "On Friday the 9th of October our beautiful Tom was found in Mtk'uari River in Georgia.
"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.
"It is currently very difficult to repatriate Tom home due to the Covid19 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."
The Go Fund Me Page has already raised over €33,000 (£28,000) with tributes being paid to Tom and his family.
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