Gardaí examine video footage after fatal assault during Athlone stag

Two men arrested after Paul Connolly attacked during altercation in early hours of Saturday

Gardaí believe Paul “Babs” Connolly, who died after being assaulted during a stag party weekend in the Midlands, was involved in an altercation with two men moments before he was fatally injured and that one of them struck the victim.

Mr Connolly appears to have fallen to the ground and then hit his head as he fell. The 47-year-old was initially involved in an altercation with one of the men in Athlone, Co Westmeath, in the early hours of Saturday when the second man struck Mr Connolly.

Gardaí are trying to establish if Mr Connolly was also hit while he was on the ground and they are examining video recorded by a member of the public at the scene. Footage from CCTV cameras has also been gathered in a bid to establish the precise sequence of events that led to Mr Connolly’s death.

Two men, one in his 30s and another aged 19 years, have been arrested for questioning about the assault. They remained in Garda custody on Sunday evening and were being detained under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act at Athlone Garda station, which allows for them to be questioned for up to 24 hours without charge.


Mr Connolly, who was known as ‘Babs’, was from Edenderry, Co Offaly, and had been socialising in a hotel in Athlone on Friday as part of a double stag celebration. He appears to have left his friends and became involved in an altercation with another man, which led to him being assaulted.

When the assault occurred, just after 2.30am on Church St the alarm was raised, with gardaí and paramedics arriving on the scene. However, while Mr Connolly was treated on the road before being taken to Portiuncula University Hospital, Ballinasloe, Co Galway, he was later pronounced dead there.

The scene of the attack was sealed off and has undergone an examination by members of the Garda Technical Bureau. A postmortem examination has also been carried out on the dead man’s remains. The investigation into the fatal assault is being conducted by gardaí in Athlone.

Gardaí said a video of the assault was being circulated on social media and urged members of the public to desist from sharing the footage.

Gardaí have also appealed for people to come forward who may have been at the taxi rank waiting area on Church Street in Athlone between 2.15am and 3am on Saturday, and anyone who may have provided assistance to the man.

Mr Connolly’s boss, roofing contractor Ray Kelly, paid tribute to his colleague and friend, saying he was “a real good genuine fellah” who would always go the extra mile to “help anyone”.

“Whenever I needed him he was always there to help and willing to go the extra mile. He most certainly didn’t deserve what happened to him. Everyone is still in shock. It is very sad to go on a night out and that happens to you.”

Mr Kelly said he spoke with Mr Connolly shortly before he went to the stag party and he told him he was “really looking forward to it” and was in “good spirits”.

Mr Kelly added: “It is horrendous, just shocking, it is so hard to get your head around it. Nobody deserves that to happen. He was one of the good characters, a genuinely good natured person, who always had a good word to say about people.

“I can’t speak highly enough about him. I grew very fond of him.”

Mr Connolly “loved music” and was a Bruce Springsteen fan in particular. “He was always talking about Bruce, and films. He could tell you everything about films and he was always going to concerts here and there.”

“At work, he had a little stereo with him all the time. He would always get the work done, but you would know where he was from the sound of the music. That was his calling card,” said Mr Kelly.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times

Brian Hutton

Brian Hutton is a freelance journalist and Irish Times contributor

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter