Phoenix Park fire victim targeted for money
Deceased was “intermittently” homeless
Investigating officers have had to rely on DNA testing to confirm the identity of the deceased due to the severity of injuries inflicted from the fire and assault beforehand. Photograph: Frank Miller
Gardaí believe the man set alight and killed in Dublin’s Phoenix Park last week may have been targeted due to suspicions he had money and was from a more stable background.
Detectives are satisfied that theft was the primary motive and yesterday arrested a second suspect, a 20-year-old man.
The other suspect, a 27-year-old who is well known to gardaí, was due to be either charged or released last night. Both men were being held at Finglas Garda station.
Investigating officers have had to rely on DNA testing to confirm the identity of the deceased due to the severity of injuries inflicted from the fire and assault beforehand.
It is understood that the man had only been “intermittently” homeless. A postmortem did not indicate he had abused alcohol or drugs.
“He took to the streets even though he was in good shape,” said a Garda source.
“They [homeless people] would suss out from each other who has money and who doesn’t.
“Assaults would be common place. But I haven’t seen, or I can’t remember, where someone was assaulted, put into a sleeping bag and set on fire.”
The savage nature of the attack was condemned by Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin in a sermon over the weekend.
Speaking at the Church of St Andrew on Westland Row, he said: “In our own city how often do we read about knives being raised in violence and guns in vengeance and lives, young lives, being ruined?
“Like you, I was horrified by the news of someone being burned alive in the Phoenix Park in these days.”
Gardaí were due to either release or charge the first suspect once the legal period of detention had expired at 11pm last night.
The second man, who was arrested in the morning, was still being held in custody.
The deceased was discovered last Friday by a passing Garda patrol car who spotted the fire.
According to sources, he was said to have had a severe injury to his skull and a gas canister, probably used as an accelerant, was located nearby.