The body of James Cahillane was found in the hallway of the gutted house at Ardraw, Beaufort, Co Kerry, after fire crews had battled a mystery blaze for well over an hour.
Gardaí have appealed to anybody who may have met or seen Mr Cahillane between 6pm and midnight on Wednesday to make contact. The are also appealing for information from anyone who may have noticed anything suspicious or unusual around the townland of Ardraw, or in the greater Beaufort area, between 11pm on Wednesday and 2am on Thursday.
“The death is now being treated as suspicious. An investigation has been launched to examine all the circumstances,” said a spokesman.
Gardaí initially thought the incident was an accident but there was a dramatic twist following an autopsy conducted at Kerry General Hospital in Tralee by assistant state pathologist Dr Margot Bolster. She found Mr Cahillane had suffered extensive head wounds and a number of injuries that may not have been consistent with a house fire. Investigating detectives immediately prepared to launch a more detailed investigation and forensic experts were alerted.
The father of two adult children, who lived alone, worked as a maintenance electrician with financial services company Fexco and it is known that he had been playing cards in a Killorglin public house in the hours before his death. He arrived home by taxi close to midnight and the alarm was raised two hours later by a neighbour who heard a loud bang and saw the house engulfed in flames.
Anyone with information should contact gardaí in Caherciveen on 066 9473600, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666111, or any Garda station.
* Meanwhile, a woman was forced to flee her home after her car went ablaze in her driveway in Donegal yesterday.
The blaze started just before 3am and threatened to engulf the house at Glenoughty Close in Letterkenny after it spread to the adjoining garage. The cause of the fire is unknown but gardaí are carrying out a full investigation.