The prime suspect in the killing of an Irish man in Australia handed himself over to police hours after an emotional plea from the dead man’s mother, it emerged today.
Gearoid Walsh, 23, suffered severe head injuries in the violent late-night attack at a takeaway in the Sydney suburb of Coogee on Sunday.
He was rushed to hospital and put on a life support machine but died last night.
A 28-year-old Australian man walked into a police station in the city with a solicitor around five hours after Gearoid’s distraught mother Tressa said she felt no animosity towards the attacker.
“I’d really like to say that as a mother, I really feel for this guy who got into a fight with Gearoid,” Ms Walsh said.
“I am heartbroken for him, because we don’t blame him. We don’t want him to serve time in prison. I think he was just very, very unlucky.
“Myself and my family are appealing for him to come forward and get closure on this and some peace. We don’t want him to torture himself over this. I don’t see this as a murder.”
It is understood detectives are not looking for anyone else in connection with the killing.
Police had released video footage of a man they wanted to interview in relation to the assault – understood to be the same man now being questioned by detectives.
Officers believe Mr Walsh had been out drinking at hotels in the area before getting involved in an argument with a man at a food shop.
He was punched and fell to the ground, hitting his head on the pavement.
Ms Walsh, who flew from Dublin to Sydney to be by her son’s bedside at the Prince of Wales Hospital, said he had been celebrating the birthday of his 22-year-old sister Aoife when the attack happened.
She and brother Ciaran, 27, were living in the country and Gearoid had been staying with them since he arrived five weeks ago.
Their mother said Gearoid, who had been working as a roofing insulator, was a quiet and introverted young man who did not get involved in fights.
She said the family was devastated by the tragic death.
“Three years ago I lost my husband, and now my family have lost an adored son, brother and uncle. Gearoid is like a father figure to my eldest granddaughter. She is seven and so distraught,” Ms Walsh said.
“I can’t describe how devastated myself and Gearoid’s brother and sisters and nieces are. But sadly our lives will never be the same without Gearoid.”
Mr Walsh had been living in Dublin before travelling to Australia on a working visa.
His organs were donated on his death, which his mother said had given meaning to the tragic incident.
Coogee, in eastern Sydney, is a popular destination for Irish and British tourists.
Last August Cork man David Keohane was left in a coma after being attacked while walking home from a party in the beachside suburb.