Suspect for fatal Wexford stabbing was close to victim

Father of three John Lawlor died of single stab wound to leg on Christmas Eve

Gardaí in Co Wexford have identified a chief suspect for the stabbing to death of a father of three on Christmas Eve and are not looking for anyone else in connection with the killing.

The dead man has been named as 48-year-old John Lawlor. He was found dead at about 11.55pm in his home at Ballinatray Lower, Courtown Harbour, Co Wexford.

A separated father of two adult children and a teenage child, Mr Lawlor had been stabbed in the leg and lost a large amount of blood - which led to his death before he was found and the alarm raised.

A man known to Mr Lawlor all his life was found injured at the front of Mr Lawlor’s house close to midnight on Christmas Eve.

He had suffered an injury to his head, and while his face was covered with blood and he was taken for treatment to Wexford General Hospital, his injuries were not serious and he was discharged on Christmas morning.

Gardaí are working on the theory that Mr Lawlor had been out socialising with friends and when he returned to his home, a man known to him who lived locally called to the property.

A row ensued between Mr Lawlor and the caller, during which the deceased was stabbed in the leg and then bled to death.

It was only when the suspect for the fatal stabbing was found injured in the garden of the house where the attack took place that it was discovered Mr Lawlor had been attacked inside the property, and was dead in the house.

After the injured man had been treated in hospital and discharged, he was immediately arrested by gardaí on suspicion of the fatal knife attack.

He was detained under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act and was questioned throughout Christmas Day ay Enniscorthy Garda station. He was released without charge on Christmas night.

Gardaí are following a definite line of inquiry and are not looking for anybody else in connection with the killing.

The suspect lives with his family near Mr Lawlor’s house and the two men have been very close all their lives. The fatality is being treated by gardaí as a suspicious death.

A postmortem on Mr Lawlor's remains was carried out at Waterford Regional Hospital. While results of that examination were not being released, Garda sources said the deceased was stabbed once in the leg.

The investigation is ongoing. It is expected to be upgraded to a murder inquiry.