A man who served time in jail for trying to smuggle an explosive twice the size of the Omagh bomb into the UK has been killed in a suspected assault.
The 56-year-old, named locally as Larry Keane, was found lying in a walkway near a housing estate in Athy, Co Kildare, at about midnight last night.
He had a wound to his head.
Keane, who lived locally and was well known around the town and regularly seen walking with a stick, was taken to Naas Hospital where he died in the early hours of this morning.
The alarm was raised when local officers were called shortly before midnight last night with a report of a man lying in the walkway between St John’s Lane and Greenhills.
Keane was a father of six and a former soldier who was convicted of a major explosives offence in 1998.
He was jailed for 15 years after gardai stopped him in a BMW car packed with explosives and queued for the ferry in Dun Laoghaire two days before the Aintree Grand National.
The 980lb bomb was twice the size of the device planted in Omagh a few months later.
Locals said he was in very ill health in recent years after a serious car accident and had mobility problems.
Garda sources said the victim died after a row. There was no initial suggestion that a firearm was used in the killing.
It is understood the discovery was made by a young man who was walking his girlfriend home.
Both were said to be shaken by the find.
A number of locals described Keane as frail.
“I can honestly say that a 10-year-old could have knocked him down,” one man who declined to be named said.
However, the dead man was handed a six-month suspended sentence in November for assault and came to the attention of gardai for a number of minor offences in recent years.
Gardai have sealed off the area where the man was discovered for a forensic technical examination and have appealed for witnesses to come forward.
The Office of the State Pathologist has also been informed for a post-mortem examination to be carried out.