Man (26) arrested in connection with death of brothers in Castlebar
One of the two men would have celebrated his 70th birthday today
The scene of double killing of two brothers at New Antrim Street, Castlebar, Co Mayo. Photograph: Keith Heneghan/Phocus.
A 26-year-old man has been arrested this evening in connection with the deaths of two elderly brothers at their home in Castlebar, Co Mayo.
Gardaí believe the two pensioners were beaten to death in the early hours of this morning. One of the victims would have celebrated his 70th birthday today.
The arrested man is currently being detained at Castlebar Garda station under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act 1984.
The dead men were described by locals as vulnerable and mentally impaired. One of the deceased was deaf and non verbal, having suffered a work place accident when living in the UK around 30 years ago.
The remains of the men, aged 68 and 69 years, were discovered at their house on New Antrim Street, Castlebar, Co Mayo, at 7am. The discovery was made when a home help called to the property, as was normal several times a day.
One of the bodies was found inside the house in a downstairs bedroom and the other outside the property in the back yard.
The small two-storey house were they lived and died backs onto the constituency office of Taoiseach Enda Kenny, which is around 50 metres away around the corner on Tucker Street.
Supt Dave Taylor said the men were popular and well known in the area, and appealed for people who had information about the killings or who may have seen the men late last night or into this morning to come forward and speak to them in confidence.
“A lot of witnesses have already come forward and we are doing house to house inquiries, but we need other people to come forward,” he said.
Supt Taylor added it was too early to say if the killings may have occurred during a robbery or if there were any items, including cash, missing.
He said a full scale investigation was now underway and assured local people, especially the elderly, that the criminal probe would be exhaustive.
“There will be no stone left unturned and we have all the resources that we need,” he said.
The last sighting of the men was at around midnight last night when they bought chips from a takeaway across the street from their home.
State Pathologist Prof Marie Cassidy arrived at the house just after 3pm today. While the cause of the deaths will not be known until Prof Cassidy’s work is completed, probably by tonight, sources said there was a large amount of blood at the scene and the men died violently.
The same sources said it appeared they have been beaten to death and that a blunt instrument may have been used in the fatal attack.
The Garda Technical Bureau also examined the property throughout this morning and afternoon.
Members of the bureau had placed plastic sheeting on the pavement and road outside the property, apparently covering blood.
The area is in the heart of a main commercial district and a Garda CCTV system has been installed which covers the street where the killings took place and also the streets around the property down which the killer would have left the area.
Gardaí were examining the footage were also gathering footage recorded on cameras installed by the many businesses in the area, including a number of pubs, shops and restaurants.
The Taoiseach described the murder of the two elderly brothers, whom he knew very well, as an act of savagery.
“I was shocked this morning to get a call from my own town where there has been the brutal and savage murder of two men I knew well,” Mr Kenny told the Dáil today. “I find this as an act of savagery.
“I have spoken to the gardaí and I know they are pursuing lines of inquiry and I hope that person or persons responsible are brought to justice in due course.”
Mr Kenny described the elderly brothers as “lovely people”. “They never harmed anybody in their lives, were residents of the street where my office is, I knew them very well,” he said. “I’m very sorry to hear of these brutal murders.”
The names of the men are known to gardaí, locals and the media, though The Irish Times has taken the decision not to release them until all relatives have been informed.
“They were harmless divils around the place, very quiet and well liked and everyone looked out for them,” said one business owner.
The men were non-drinkers but regular visitors to the pubs on their street, while staff of nearby Rocky’s Pub often brought tea to the men in their house.
The street where the men were found is in a busy area in the centre of Castlebar, immediately adjacent to Castlebar Shopping Centre in an area of the town with a high volume of pedestrian and vehicular traffic.
Michael Kilcoyne, an Independent councillor in Castlebar, said the older community in the town were in shock over the deaths.
“It’s a terrible tragedy for the town. People, in particular older people, are in fear this morning and whatever resources the gardaí need should be made available to them without question,” he said.