Suspect in fatal hit and run held at airport

Heathrow airport

The family of a cyclist killed in a hit-and-run have thanked the gardaí for tracking down the prime suspect, who was arrested at Heathrow Airport in London as he was about to board a flight to Australia.

More than 18 months after Paud O’Leary was killed while cycling on the Cork-Kerry border, it has been disclosed that Metropolitan Police officers arrested the 22-year-old suspect at Heathrow Airport last Tuesday.

Gardaí had asked them to detain the man, who is from north Cork, after receiving information that he had flown back to Britain from Western Australia, where he had gone shortly after the July 1, 2012, hit-and-run.

Mr O’Leary, 42, a married father-of-four, had been training for a charity cycle in aid of Down Syndrome when he was struck by a charcoal grey Toyota Land Cruiser near the village of Gneeveguilla, Co Kerry.

He is survived by a daughter who has Down syndrome.

It is believed Mr O’Leary was hit between 5am and 8am, but his body wasn’t discovered until several hours later.

His brother, Seán Óg O’Leary, spoke yesterday of how grateful the family were for the support they’d received from the gardaí, friends, neighbours and the wider community.

He said the family were informed of the man’s arrest shortly after he was picked up at Heathrow.

“It’s a sad time and it’s also a relief for us to. We hope the gardaí will get a conviction and this will give us some closure. Closure is the big thing,” Mr O’Leary said.

A senior garda source said a lot of painstaking work had gone into the investigation, which was given nearly the same resources as a murder inquiry.

It is believed that gardaí knew for some time who their prime suspect was and that he had fled to Britain before moving onto Australia.

Gardaí had been liaising with Australian police, but when they “received intelligence” the man was coming back to Britain for a short time, the opportunity to have him arrested so close to home they “couldn’t turn it down.”

“The man is currently in custody in Britain. We are in the process of an extradition procedure with the UK,” the garda source said.

Despite intensive searches, gardaí have yet to recover the 4x4.

While it could have been taken out of the country, gardaí are still working on the possibility it may have been hidden, crushed, or even buried.

Meanwhile, gardaí have confirmed they know the identity of the person they suspect of killing a young Frenchman in a hit-and-run in Cork City last November.

Gabriel Jean Legehad, 25, who worked for Apple in Hollyhill, in the city was knocked down by a Transit-type van as he was crossing the road at George’s Quay.

“We are still seeking to interview a particular individual. We have a suspect in mind,” the garda source said.

It is understood that he has also fled the country.

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