Speaking as a murder investigation began, a Garda spokesman revealed how bachelor James Boyce was beaten in the hall, dragged upstairs and locked into a bedroom of his home in St Munchin’s Street, St Mary’s Park, Limerick.
Local councillor John Gilligan revealed how Mr Boyce was found on Monday after meals-on-wheels staff entered the house when the pensioner did not answer. “They discovered him in an upstairs bedroom. There was blood in the hallway and he appeared to have been locked into the bedroom.”
Mr Boyce served in the Irish Army and was decorated for his UN service in the Congo during which he survived an attack on a platoon of Irish soldiers from the fearsome Baluba tribe, which was responsible for the Niemba ambush of 1960 in which nine Irish soldiers died. On leaving the army he went to England and returned home to look after his ill brother, Joseph.
Inspector John O’Reilly said last night Mr Boyce’s home was being preserved as a crime scene and State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy had carried out a preliminary examination. Mr Boyce’s body was taken to the Mid-Western Regional Hospital, where Dr Cassidy carried out a postmortem.
Insp O’Reilly said: “We are anxious to speak to anybody who may have seen Mr Boyce between 10am on Saturday and 6.45pm on Monday. He often stood at the front door.”
Technical bureau detectives carried out a forensic examination at the house yesterday as gardaí carried out door-to-door inquiries.
Mr Boyce’s neighbour Christy McNamara said he last talked to Mr Boyce on Saturday morning when he was walking back from the shop. “He was a very quiet man who didn’t bother anybody.”
One former army man, who did not want to be named, said Mr Boyce was a very modest man who was deeply proud of his UN medal. “He was as brave an Irishman as you can get and went into the most deadly of situations wearing his UN colours, but to think that now he has died like this in his old family home in Limerick is unthinkable.”
Last night, Supt Frank O’Brien described it as a “terrible attack on a well-respected member of the community” and appealed for anybody with information to come forward.
“The entire community here in St Mary’s Park are horrified at the death in these circumstances of a man who was so highly held by the entire community.”