A man being questioned about the murder of a woman in her Dublin home subjected her to a violent knife attack before ringing gardaí himself to raise the alarm, detectives believe.
The suspect had been undergoing treatment in recent weeks for mental health issues. The Irish Times understands he was detained under the Mental Health Act in the past week as his behaviour was deemed to be concerning and out of character.
On that occasion he was taken to a Garda station and was then assessed by a doctor before being released on Tuesday, as his condition was not deemed to be severe enough to warrant being sectioned. Instead, he was released and referred on for further treatment for his mental health issues.
It is understood he was wandering around the city centre partially clothed, giving rise to concerns for his mental stability.
Detectives were trying to establish if a mental health episode influenced his alleged actions at the apartment in Finglas on Thursday morning, as they suspect.
When gardaí arrived at the apartment in the Charlestown development on St Margaret's Road, Finglas, at about 6.15am, the victim was deceased and the suspect was arrested.
The dead woman has not been named by the Garda but was a 32-year-old Brazilian national who had been living in Ireland for at least five years.
The man being questioned is also from Brazil and in his early 30s. He was well known to the dead woman. Garda sources said there was no history of domestic violence call-outs to the fifth-floor apartment where the murder occurred.
The suspect’s recent contact with gardaí and his assessment by medical staff were all being examined as part of the murder investigation. The man had never come to the Garda’s attention before being detained under the Mental Health Act in the past week.
A number of knives at the Charlestown apartment were being examined to determine if they were used in the fatal attack, which Garda sources said was very extreme. The victim had suffered severe injuries to her neck consistent with a sustained attack that may have continued after she was dead.
When gardaí arrived at the apartment it was immediately sealed off as a crime scene. The woman’s remains were left in situ pending the arrival of personnel from the Office of the State Pathologist.
The remains underwent a preliminary examination at the scene before being removed on Thursday afternoon for a full postmortem.
Members of the Garda Technical Bureau examined the apartment throughout the day and could be seen leaving the property with evidence bags full of items from the apartment.
Gardaí said the suspect was “arrested on suspicion of murder and taken to Finglas Garda station” where he was still being detained on Thursday night under section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act. He can be questioned for up to 24 hours without charge.
On Thursday afternoon local people began leaving flowers and candles at the entrance of Block N of the Charlestown complex where the murder took place.
Seán Whelan, from Meakstown cottages, was the first to leave a floral tribute and told The Irish Times that as someone “born and reared” in Finglas he was shocked when he heard news of the murder.
“I actually shouldn’t have left the flowers because this shouldn’t have happened in the first place. But I just felt in my heart that the poor girl deserved to have them, and that’s it.”
Mr Whelan said that when he grew up in the area it was “rural” and that people in the community no longer knew each other as they once did. But that did not lessen the impact of such a violent crime taking place there, he said.
“People are shocked, just very shocked; including myself. We all go to bed at night and we don’t know what we’re going to wake up to the next morning, that’s the new thing... But it is extremely rare for anything [like this] to happen around here.”