Fire brigade crews removed unconscious Michael ‘Mikey’ O’Shea from his burning ground floor apartment at North Main Street, Youghal, Co Cork, at 2.30am yesterday.
Together with advanced paramedics, who arrived within minutes, they attempted unsuccessfully to resuscitate him and he was pronounced dead a short time later.
Gardaí launched the murder inquiry following a postmortem yesterday evening at Cork University Hospital by assistant state pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster.
Mr O’Shea had a number of injuries including a stab wound in the side of his neck and abrasions on other parts of his body.
It’s believed his killer pushed Mr O’Shea’s body under his bed before setting fire to the apartment.
A team of more than 30 gardaí are involved in the murder investigation.
Senior detectives led by Detective Superintendent Sean Healy and Detective Inspector Brian Goulding examined the ground floor apartment rented by Mr O’Shea, which showed signs it had been ransacked before the fire was started.
However, there were no signs of a forced entry, which has led gardaí to believe Mr O’Shea knew his killer.
Earlier senior gardaí including Assistant Commissioner Willie Keane, Chief Superintendent Kieran McGann and Superintendent Flor Horan — who is in charge of policing in Youghal — held a case conference in the town hall and dispatched uniformed and plain-clothed gardaí to view CCTV footage and carry out house to house inquiries.
Other gardaí were dispatched to search for the murder weapon and any blood-stained clothing the killer may have discarded as they fled the scene. A number of nearby litter bins were also examined.
Superintendent Horan said Mr O’Shea was last seen at 10pm on Wednesday standing outside Xtra- vision, just yards from the town’s historic Clock Tower and the alleyway leading to his apartment.
He said gardaí were anxious to hear from anybody who saw Mr O’Shea at any time on Wednesday, but especially after 10pm. They are particularly interested in hearing from anybody who saw Mr O’Shea in company with anybody else during that day.
Dozens of stunned locals looked on as the body of Mr O’Shea was removed from the apartment complex at North Main Street at lunchtime yesterday.
They included Mr O’Shea’s mother, Catherine, and his twin sister, Rebecca.
An emotional Mrs O’Shea said, “‘We all loved him,” while Rebecca said she’d seen her twin brother the previous afternoon and he’d been “in great form”.
Mr O’Shea is also survived by his father, Michael senior, and two other sisters, who all live in the town.
A bouquet of flowers was placed at the scene which read, “To Mikey, RIP from your friends”.
Billy Murphy, who lives in an adjoining apartment, described Mr O’Shea as an inoffensive man.
“He was a quiet lad and I don’t think he’d hurt anyone. This is a desperate tragedy. I’m 60 years old and I can’t remember a murder ever happening in this town. It’s a big shock to everybody,” he said.
Around 25 people live in the three-storey apartment complex and another of them, Eddie Hennessy, remarked that Mr O’Shea wouldn’t harm anybody.
“I always spoke to him. Mikey was quiet and he minded his own business. There were never any problem with him in the flats,” Mr Hennessy said.
He added that Mr O’Shea had only moved into the apartment complex a few months ago.
Tom Coakley, who owns a nearby furniture shop, said Mr O’Shea was quiet, but was known by everybody in the town as he was always out walking.
“This is a huge shock. It’s the last thing you’d expect to happen in this town,” Mr Coakley said.
Cllr Sandra McLellan said people living in Youghal were numbed by what had happened.
‘I also can’t remember anything like this happening in Youghal. You don’t expect it to happen on your doorstep. If anybody knows who did this they should immediately contact the gardaí. I hope whoever did this is caught quickly. Our prayers are with the O’Shea family at this time,’ Cllr McLellan said.
Anybody with information about the murder is asked to contact gardaí at Midleton: (021) 4621550 or Youghal: (024) 92200.