Gardaí investigating a fatal assault on a man who was attending a funeral in Co Kerry on Wednesday believe his killers may have travelled to the graveyard with the sole intention of attacking him.
The man, named locally as Thomas Dooley, was set upon by a group of five or six men armed with slash hooks and machetes at the New Rath Cemetery in Rathass in Tralee at about 11.45am.
Mr Dooley and his wife, who was also injured, had travelled from their home in Ballyspillane, Killarney to attend the funeral of Bridget O’Brien, a mother of five from St Michael’s Road in Killarney and Rathass in Tralee, who died on October 2nd.
“We are satisfied that the group who attacked the victim were not attending the funeral of Ms O’Brien so it would very much appear as though they travelled to the graveyard with the sole intention of carrying out this vicious and targeted attack on the victim,” a Garda source said.
It is understood that Mr Dooley was attacked by the group just as the burial was concluding. He suffered multiple stab and slash wounds. His wife also sustained a number of wounds while attempting to protect him.
Mr Dooley, who was aged in his 40s and the father of a large family, was treated at the scene by paramedics before being taken to Kerry General Hospital, which is just across the road from the cemetery. He was pronounced dead shortly after his arrival to the hospital. His wife, also aged in her 40s, was treated for shock and non-life-threatening injuries.
A postmortem is to be carried out at the hospital today after gardaí requested the services of the State Pathologist’s Office. The force is expected to formally launch a murder inquiry once the results of the examination are received.
An Garda Síochána said in a statement that officers attended the grounds of Rathass Cemetery in Tralee “following reports of an altercation involving a group of people”.
The scene of the attack was cordoned off immediately afterwards and officers are understood to have recovered a number of implements which will be sent for forensic examination in order to establish if they were used by Mr Dooley’s attackers.
Officers also been harvesting CCTV footage from the graveyard, which has security cameras, and the general area. They also took the names of those attending the funeral with a view to taking witness statements from them over the coming days.
Anyone who may have witnessed the attack or with information that could assist the investigation is asked to contact Tralee Garda station on (066) 7102300 or any garda station.