A close friend of the Polish father of two who was brutally hacked to death in his home says his wife’s physical injuries will heal but her heart will be broken forever.
Aga Deryng, a friend of Mikolaj and Elzbieta Wilk, was speaking at Cork University Hospital (CUH) yesterday as she supported Elzbieta, who is recovering from surgery to severe hand injuries sustained during the savage and sustained attack in which her husband was killed in their home on the western outskirts of Cork City early on Sunday.
Garda investigations into the murder in the isolated bungalow in rural Maglin, near Ballincollig, are continuing but they remained tightlipped on a possible motive for the attack.
Ms Deryng, who is maintaining a vigil at her friend’s hospital bedside, said that doctors hope to be able to save her badly damaged fingers, and that, in time, she will recover from her physical injuries.
She paid tribute to Mikolaj, who was known to friends as Nik, describing him as a quiet, courteous, and generous man who was devoted to his wife and their two children.
“They are a quiet family. He is a loving husband and a really caring man. He always minded the kids. He was always around them trying to raise them as best he could. It is going to be a huge loss,” she said.
“We are in total shock. He was a really good guy. He was so helpful. You could just call him and he would arrive at your door. He wasn’t a bad man at all. I am so surprised that this happened.”
Gardaí said they are still trying to establish why a gang of at least four men, all wearing balaclavas and some armed with weapons, including machetes, entered the Wilks’ house at around 3am on Sunday as Mr Wilk, Elzbieta, their two children — a boy and a girl aged under six — and a Slovakian woman in her 30s who was renting a room in the house were sleeping inside.
It’s believed the couple were attacked in their bed. Mr Wilk, 35, suffered several severe slash wounds and was left fighting for his life.
Elzbieta suffered slash wounds to her hands and face as she tried to help her husband, before the gang fled.
The children, who were in another room, heard the attack.
The other woman fled through a rear window and ran to a neighbouring house.
Despite her injuries, Elzbieta comforted her children and was able to raise the alarm at 3.17am.
Gardaí said they were at the house within five minutes.
They encountered a gruesome scene when they arrived, and rendered medical assistance to the couple while waiting for paramedics to arrive.
The couple was rushed by ambulance to CUH but Mr Wilk was pronounced dead there at around 5.30am.
Aga said Elzbieta was told by gardaí later on Sunday.
It is understood that members of Mr Wilk’s family were due to arrive in Ireland yesterday while arrangements were being made for a cousin of Elzbieta to care for the children.
About an hour after the alarm was raised, a BMW car, believed to be a 3 series, was found abandoned and burning at Iniskenny, Ballinora, about 6km away and about 1km south of Waterfall village.
Gardaí confirmed that during a technical examination of the car, a firearm was recovered. It will now be subjected to further forensic tests.
An autopsy was conducted on Mr Wilk’s remains by assistant State pathologist, Dr Margot Bolster, at CUH yesterday. Gardaí said they will not be releasing the results of the autopsy for operational reasons.
They have conducted door-to-door enquiries and detectives have begun to trawl through hours of CCTV footage which has been harvested from premises in the area.
Supt Colm O’Sullivan, who is leading the investigation, repeated his appeal to anyone with information, to anyone who may have witnessed the incident, or to anyone who saw any suspicious or unusual activity in the Maglin, Waterfall, and Ballinora areas in the days before Sunday’s attack to contact gardaí.
He appealed specifically to any motorists and taxi drivers with dash-cam footage who were in the Maglin, Waterfall, and Ballinora areas between 2am and 5am on Sunday to contact them.
Mikolaj and Elzbieta moved to Ireland about 12 years ago and married about seven years ago.
They had been living in Bridge House, Maglin, for the last few years from where Mr Wilk ran his own gardening and house maintenance business, H&G.
He had been very busy in recent weeks in the run-up to Holy Communion season and he was well-liked and well-regarded by those he worked for.
Helen Queally Murphy, who told Cork’s 96FM yesterday that Mr Wilk had done some gardening work for her over the last four or five years, described him as a “very solid, caring, and kind man”.
“You genuinely could not meet a nicer man,” she said.
“He did a lot of stuff without even being asked. The Nik we knew was a very solid, unassuming, caring man. He was so courteous. He was as neat as a new pin. He remembered all my kids’ names.
By last night, almost €5,000 had been pledged to a GoFundMe account set up earlier by Aga to help the family with funeral costs.
“Any bit of help or donations would help them to get back on their feet and live normal again, but it will take a long time,” she said.
She also met Fr Piotr Galus, chaplain to the Polish community in Cork, who visited Elzbieta in CUH yesterday.
He said the Polish community will remember Mikolaj and his family at a special Mass for the community in St Augustine’s Church tomorrow night.
But he said he expects a large attendance at another Mass he will celebrate in Ballincollig’s Church of St Mary and St John at 7.30pm this Saturday.
“We will use that Mass to pray for the family and for the soul of Mikolaj,” he said.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved