Garda checked different house after 999 call in murder case


GARDAÍ INVESTIGATING the brutal murder of Sligo man Eugene Gillespie have confirmed they received – and acted upon – a 999 call to the local Garda station last Thursday which said there was a man tied up in a house with a brown gate.

Mr Gillespie was not found until the following night, lying on the floor with his hands tied behind his back at his home on Old Market Street, about 100 yards from the Garda station. He died from his injuries at Sligo General Hospital on Saturday.

As detectives carried out a number of raids in Sligo town yesterday as part of the inquiry into the murder, it emerged gardaí had checked out a different house after getting the 999 call last Thursday.

A spokesman said gardaí had acted on the information and a garda had gone to the house “as described”, but was satisfied there was “nothing untoward”. He confirmed Mr Gillespie’s house was not the one checked, but refused to say whether the house actually checked was on the same street.

The Irish Times has confirmed there is a brown wooden gate leading to a yard adjacent to Mr Gillespie’s house. There is also a brown gate up the street closer to the Garda station.

Gardaí had initially believed Mr Gillespie had not been seen since 9pm last Wednesday, September 19th, but it is understood another sighting from Thursday morning has been confirmed.

Mayor of Sligo David Cawley was among those who defended gardaí on the matter yesterday, saying the information given in the 999 call was not exact enough.

“I have never known the gardaí to take a 999 call lightly. Unfortunately it may have been less than exact about where the house was,” he said.

Mr Cawley said he was confident gardaí were “pulling out all the stops” and he believed they would track down the perpetrators of a crime which has shocked the community and frightened many people living alone.

The Sligo Champion newspaper yesterday reported a young man had made a 999 call on Thursday, about a man tied up in a house. Gardaí said they were liaising with phone companies in an effort to establish the identity of the caller.

Gardaí hope footprints from runners found at the scene and blood samples taken at the house will help to track down the killers.

It is understood there was no sign of a break-in at Mr Gillespie’s home. Many local residents have pointed out that the former telephone exchange operator would not hesitate to answer a knock at the door.

Revelations about the 999 call have come as a shock to neighbours already upset Mr Gillespie suffered alone until Friday night, but there was no public criticism of gardaí. Jim Middleton, a friend who was also raised on Old Market Street, said: “How many brown gates are there in Sligo? There must be five gates on that street.”

Mr Cawley yesterday appealed to local people to notify gardaí of anything out of place they noticed in the Old Market Street area, no matter how trivial. “As we are going into the dark days of winter, I think this should remind us to look in on our older neighbours,” he added, stressing that Mr Gillespie was neither very old nor frail.

Fianna Fáil spokeswoman for older people Senator Mary White called for all elderly people to be given personal alarms.