Gardaí have yet to establish the motive behind a brutal attack in which a man in his 30s was hacked to death in his Co Cork home in the early hours of yesterday morning.
Mikolaj Wilk, aged 35, a gardener originally from Poland, died of his wounds at Cork University Hospital after the attack which left emergency services sickened by the crime scene.
Mr Wilk’s wife Elzbieta, who is in her early 30s, lost at least one finger and had to undergo emergency surgery after the attack in which up to four men entered their home at around 3am.
It is believed that her injuries were a result of attempts to protect herself or her husband, rather than a deliberate attempt to cut off her fingers.
The couple’s two children, both aged under six, and another women in her 30s — believed to be renting a room in the house — were also at home but were physically unharmed.
The children were in the care of social workers last night while their mother was treated in hospital.
Gardaí found a firearm, possibly a handgun, and two machetes in a burnt-out car that was used by the gang.
It is thought to have been a BMW 3 series but confirmation of the model and colour was the subject of a technical examination taking place last night.
The men, who are not thought to be Polish, broke into the Wilks’ family home at Maglin, outside Ballincollig, at around 3am as the couple slept in bed.
Gardaí arrived within five minutes of being called to what is said to have been a horrific scene, where they provided medical assistance to the couple until an ambulance arrived to take both victims to hospital.
“Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the medical teams at the hospital, Mr Wilk later passed away,” Garda Superintendent Colm O’Sullivan told reporters.
He spoke briefly outside the quiet cul de sac where the couple’s home, Bridge House, is located, in a rural area about 1.5km from the town of Ballincollig.
Asked about a possible motive, Supt O’Sullivan said that none was known yesterday evening as the investigation was still in its early stages.
An interrupted burglary or attempt to steal a family vehicle could be one reason the men entered the property. A Mercedes van and a KIA SUV-type vehicle were taken by gardaí from the house yesterday morning, possibly for forensic examination.
Gardaí want to hear from anyone who saw anything unusual or suspicious in the immediate area of the Wilk home, but also in the Waterfall or Ballinora areas, near where the alert about the car fire was raised an hour after gardaí arrived at the crime scene.
This is less than a 10-minute drive from where the attack took place and late-night taxi fares or people rising early for work may have information that will assist gardaí.
“We are appealing to taxi drivers who may have been dropping or collecting people in those areas to contact us,” Supt O’Sullivan said.
“We are appealing to any person who may have had a dashcam in their car and travelled in these areas to contact us so we can view their footage.”
In the meantime, local CCTV footage from homes and other properties in the area was being checked, and gardaí made door-to-door inquiries in the area.
As gardaí await the outcome of an autopsy on Mr Wilk’s remains this morning, they stressed the importance of getting every bit of help from people who may have seen anything unusual in the area, either yesterday between 2am and 5am, or in recent days.
“They may have information; it may appear to someone to be quite insignificant, but to us it could be the significant piece of the jigsaw that we need,” said Supt O’Sullivan.
In Ballincollig yesterday morning, prayers were said at local Masses as word of the horrific crime reached local residents. As well as the victim and his family, Ballincollig parish priest Fr George O’Mahony asked the congregation to pray for strength and courage for the gardaí and other emergency services who had attended the scene in the early hours.
Anybody who has information can contact the incident room at Gurranabraher Garda Station, headquarters of the Garda district in which Ballincollig is located, at 021 4946 200.
They can also call the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111, or contact any garda station.
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