Man (24) stabbed and then burned in Co Offaly attack

Gardaí investigate assault by group of men on the occupant of a house in Rhode

A man was left fighting for his life after receiving multiple stab wounds and severe burns at a house in Co Offaly.

The 24-year-old was named locally as Kieran Murphy. The father of one lived alone at a rented house at Coolcur, Rhode, Co Offaly, where he bred dogs. It's understood he was attacked and repeatedly stabbed before the house was set ablaze between 12.30am and 1.50am on Monday morning.

Mr Murphy managed to reach the back yard of the house where he was later discovered by a passersby.

Mr Murphy, who is known to gardai, was rushed to the Midland Regional Hospital at Tullamore before being transferred to St James' Hospital in Dublin where he underwent surgery.

It’s understood that one line of enquiry being followed by the gardai is that Mr Murphy may have been attacked over a debt.

More than ten dogs are believed to have been killed in the fire which gutted the 200-year-old house.

Local Cllr Liam Quinn(FG) said “it’s very heartbreaking for everyone in the parish and very frightening to know that people so violent are out there.” He asked anyone who may have witnessed anything suspicious or unusual in the area to contact the gardai.

Speaking at the scene, one local man described the victim as “quiet” and said, “he’d keep himself to himself.” The man said, “he was breeding the dogs and he was all excited, he was after selling some of his pups.”

Former Offaly footballer and Rhode resident, Jody Gunning, spoke of the "terrible shock" in the area. "The people here in Rhode are deeply shocked this morning to hear the news of this young man being so badly burned," he said. "The house as you can see behind us is just burned to the ground. This young man lived locally for a number of years, he was born and reared in the parish here, born to a lovely family, deeply respected here in the area," Mr Gunning remarked.

He appealed to anyone who witnessed anything suspicious to contact the gardai.

At a briefing in Tullamore, Inspector Kieran Keyes said gardai responded to an emergency call at 12.50am. "On arrival gardai discovered a 24-year-old male who had suffered extensive burn injuries and he also had suffered stab wounds to his body."

The man was taken first to the Midland Regional Hospital at Tullamore before being transferred to St James’ Hospital in Dublin. “He is undergoing surgery as he is suffering critical injuries,” explained Inspector Keyes.

The inspector said "he was discovered by two people who were returning home from the All Ireland hurling final yesterday and they just happened to see a fire in the house at approximately 1.50am this morning."

“There were a number of dogs in the house, some of them unfortunately had died as a result of the fire. It would appear at this stage a large number but I can’t say how many,” he added.

Inspector Keyes said “the scene is preserved awaiting the arrival of the detective bureau from Garda Headquarters.”

An incident-room has been set up at Tullamore Garda Station. House to house inquiries are currently taking place in the Rhode area. A Family Liaison Officer has been appointed and is liaising with the family.

“I’m appealing for anybody who may have been in the Rhode area particularly, last night between 12 midnight and 2am this morning, who may have seen anything suspicious to contact the gardai at Tullamore on 057 93 27600 or the Garda Confidential telephone number 1800 666 111,” he added.