Gardaí confident of early arrest in Leixlip killing

 

Gardaí are hoping to make an arrest within days following an attack on a 51-year-old widower who died after he was badly beaten outside his home by a gang of up to 10 people.

Oliver Lacey was repeatedly punched and kicked in the front garden of his home on the Celbridge Road just outside the village of Leixlip, Co Kildare, early on Saturday morning.

He apparently tried to help two young men who were fleeing from what was described as a drunken mob.

The two youths were walking from the village shortly after midnight when they were attacked by the gang of men in their late teens and 20s. They attempted to escape from their attackers by running into Mr Lacey's garden.

On hearing the commotion, Mr Lacey's youngest son, Oliver jnr (23), who was a friend of the two young men, ran from the house and was immediately attacked by the group.

Mr Lacey then came to his assistance and managed to secure his escape and that of his two friends into the house. He then attempted to close his front gate to stop the attackers, who began to pull at his clothes while punching and kicking him.

Witnesses have told gardaí that Mr Lacey was pulled to the ground and kicked several times in the head and body before his attackers fled, leaving him unconscious in the driveway.

He was taken to James Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown where he died seven hours later. A postmortem examination carried out on Saturday showed he died as a result of injuries sustained in the attack. Yesterday gardaí confirmed they had launched a murder investigation.

Gardaí in Lucan, who are leading the investigation, were confident of an early breakthrough in the case. "We hope to have something definite in the next few days.

"We've talked to a number of people who were at the scene and we're in the process putting that information together," Supt Mark Curran told The Irish Times.

Several witnesses had come forward following a Garda television appeal on Saturday and an appeal on radio yesterday.

"There was a large group of young people at the scene and some tried to intervene to stop the aggressors, but there were a lot of other people who also saw what happened," he added.

The young men who sought refuge in Mr Lacey's house have told gardaí that they have no idea who the members of the gang were, or why they were attacked.

"The motive for them being pursued wasn't clear," Supt Curran said.

Gardaí were last night continuing house-to-house inquiries and are appealing to people who were in the Leixlip area late on Friday night and in the early hours of Saturday to come forward with information.

Meanwhile, gardaí in Cork said last night that they were keeping an open mind on the motive for the murder of a 31-year-old father of one who was shot dead as he returned with his partner and child to their home in Ballincollig, Co Cork, on Saturday night. Eric Cummins died after being shot several times by a man who approached him as he got out of his car.