Gardaí are trying to establish if south Armagh man Kieran Hamill wanted to take revenge on murder victim Christopher Mooney for historical sexual offences committed by the Monaghan man. Detectives believe the fatal attack, during which the victim was stabbed many times, was targeted and personalised and was not a spur of the moment row that escalated or a burglary gone wrong.
Mr Mooney (60), a convicted sex offender, was murdered in his home at Knockreagh Lower, Broomfield, near Castleblayney, Co Monaghan, on Thursday morning. His brother called to the property at about 6.30am, disturbing the killer and discovering the remains of the dead man.
The man’s killer fled on foot and Mr Mooney’s brother is understood to have seen him at close range and exchanged words with him. About 30 minutes later Mr Hamill was killed when he was struck by a driver in a car. The location of that crash, at Ballynacarry Bridge on the N53 between Castleblayney and Dundalk, is about 3km from the house where Mr Mooney was murdered.
Gardaí believe Mr Hamill was the man seen fleeing from the Mooney house and that he was killed about 30 minutes later as he tried to escape from the area after murdering the 60-year-old. Mr Hamill was walking northwards, in darkness, and had almost reached the Border to cross into Armagh, when the car hit him. He was pronounced dead at the scene. His death is believed to have been instant.
The driver and other occupants of the vehicle were from the North and were on their way to work. While they were said to be shocked, they were uninjured and have spoken to gardaí about the fatal crash.
Gardaí are trying to establish if historical sex offences committed by Mr Mooney were the motivation for the fatal attack on him and, if so, what triggered his killing at this point in time. Mr Mooney was jailed for sexual offences, against a male juvenile, 19 years ago and had been largely ostracised in the local community. About eight years ago he was targeted in his home in a vigilante attack when two men beat him.
Mr Hamill was a father of two and a truck driver from Crossmaglen, Co Armagh. His death notice said he was a “cherished” father of two daughters and was also survived by his father, brother and two sisters. It added his death was “deeply regretted by his heartbroken family”.
Mr Hamill had come to the attention of gardaí several times over the past 18 months, including for violent offences and his life was said to be unstable of late. He was charged with affray at a property in Castleblaney, Co Monaghan, last May and was due to appear in court on that charge the week after next.
He was also charged with assault causing harm to a woman – which is on the upper end of the range of physical assaults – and threatening a woman’s property. Those crimes were alleged to have taken place on St Stephen’s Day, last year. Mr Hamill was due in court next February in relation to those allegations.
Mr Mooney was on Thursday morning subjected to a sustained assault, including being stabbed, inside his home, where he lived alone and which is located up a laneway in a remote area close to the Border. Gardaí were called to the property by Mr Mooney’s brother on Thursday morning. When they arrived they found a large amount of blood at the scene.
As gardaí were examining and sealing off the Mooney house from 6.30am, a call was made to the force at about 7am to alert them to the fatal crash nearby. While separate investigations, by gardaí in Castleblayney and Carrickmacross stations, were immediately opened into the two deaths, they are now being treated as linked.