Man questioned over pensioner’s killing

A young man is being questioned about the violent death of a man in his 60s who was found battered to death inside his sheltered housing unit on the southside of Cork City yesterday.

The man, who is in his early 20s, walked into Togher Garda Station yesterday afternoon just hours after the body of Joe O’Callaghan, 66, was found in a pool of blood in his sheltered housing unit in Douglas.

It is understood the man who presented himself voluntarily to gardaí was known to the deceased. He was arrested at the garda station and is being detained there under the provisions of Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984, which allows garda to hold suspects for up to 24 hours.

Mr O’Callaghan, a father of three who was originally from Grange, was found dead at home yesterday just hours after neighbours say they heard a violent row flare up on his doorstep.

One neighbour said he heard a man roar twice “open the fucking door” before he heard the sound of what he thought was a door slamming.

He said such incidents were not unusual at the home and it was only when they woke yesterday morning that they discovered the full horror of what had happened.

Gardaí say the results of an autopsy, due to be conducted by assistant State pathologist Margot Bolster today, will determine the course of their investigation. However, they are expected to upgrade their inquiry.

Mr O’Callaghan’s wife, Zimbabwean-born Angie, raised the alarm just before 8am when she arrived home to the unit close to Douglas GAA club after night-shift work. She found the body of her husband covered in blood inside.

It is believed the front door of their home had been kicked in. It is understood Mr O’Callaghan had suffered severe head wounds and that there was extensive blood staining in several rooms.

The victim’s sister, Sheila Thornhill, said the violent manner of his death has left her family “shocked and devastated”.

“We are just stunned at this now,” said Ms Thornhill.

I saw him on Saturday morning and he was in great form. I hadn’t seen him as good in a long time. Just find whoever did it to him.”

Mr O’Callaghan had been living with Angie in one of the dozen housing units in a cul-de-sac at the end of Galway’s Lane for the last five years or so.

Neighbours said he associated with people from “all walks of life” and that loud parties were not unusual in the house.

One man, who asked not be named, said he heard a loud verbal altercation and the sound of what he thought was a door slamming at Mr O’Callaghan’s home between midnight on Sunday and 1.30am yesterday.

“I heard someone shout ‘open the fuckin’ door’, twice, and then I heard loud banging. But that wouldn’t be unusual. It wouldn’t be very strange,” he said.

“He was unusual, in that he dealt with lots of low-life types. People would call regularly to his house.

Joe had parties in his house occasionally. We had to complain and put a stop to that. But there were people in and out from every walk of life.

He also said porch lights in the development have been out of action for almost 12 months and that despite repeated contact with Cork County Council and the ESB, they have yet to be repaired.

He said the other residents in the development are now living in fear. “It could be any one of us inside there.”

Gardaí conducted door-to-door enquiries yesterday and a specialist garda sniffer dog, Laser, was brought in later to search the surrounding areas, before members of the garda technical bureau from Dublin arrived at the scene to conduct a detailed forensic examination.

Gardai have issued an appeal for anyone who was in the Galway’s Lane area of Douglas between 10pm on Sunday and 8.30am yesterday to contact Togher Garda Station on 021 4947120, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666111 or any Garda Station.

The discovery of the body of Joe O’Callaghan is the second violent death in Cork city in less than a month.

Polish man Micholaj Wilk, 35, was killed by a gang armed with a machete after he was attacked at his home on the outskirts of Ballincollig on June 10. An autopsy confirmed the father of two died from multiple slash injuries. His wife suffered slash injuries to her face, neck, and hands as she tried to protect him. The murder investigation is ongoing.

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