Killer of homeless chef Timmy Hourihane offers 'sincerest and deepest apology' to family

Co-accused Christopher O'Sullivan will be sentenced on Friday for his part in Mr Hourihane's death
Killer of homeless chef Timmy Hourihane offers 'sincerest and deepest apology' to family

Timothy Hourihane was fatally injured when he was attacked near his tent on Mardyke Walk in October 2019 and died a short time later in hospital. Picture: Provision

One of Timmy Hourihane’s killers apologised on Thursday to the family but they said in a victim statement  he had the presence of mind on the night of the killing to go away and burn his clothing while their loved one lay dying.

Evidence was heard in the sentencing hearing for Christopher O’Sullivan, of no fixed address, who previously pleaded guilty to his part in the manslaughter of the former chef at a homeless encampment in Cork City. 

Timmy Hourihane, a 53-year-old father-of-one, was fatally injured when he was attacked near his tent on Mardyke Walk in October 2019 and died a short time later in hospital. 

As he lay dying, his killers walked over to his tent nearby and set fire to that. Christopher O’Sullivan burnt some of his clothes in that fire and more of them in another fire in the area.

Mr Justice Paul McDermott put sentencing back until tomorrow, Friday.

Roisín Lacey, senior counsel for Christopher O’Sullivan, said at the Central Criminal Court sitting in Cork: “He wants to offer the sincerest and deepest apology to the Hourihane family for his participation in and contribution to the death of Mr Hourihane. He has by his plea of guilty accepted his guilt.

“He had a traumatic childhood. In essence it is unspeakable on so many levels and makes for tragic reading.

“He said himself, ‘Timmy is dead and we caused it’. There is an acknowledgement. He did not want a trial because he accepts his part in this.” 

Co-accused James Brady, of Shannon Lawn, Mayfield,  Cork, was found guilty of Mr Hourihane's manslaughter after a four-week murder trial and he was sentenced to 13 years with the last two years suspended.

Originally from the Sheep's Head Peninsula in West Cork, Mr Hourihane had once worked for the Hilton group in the UK before falling on hard times and ending up homeless in Cork City.

Victim impact statement

Mr Hourihane's son Elliot said in a victim impact statement read by Detective Superintendent Michael Comyns that he could not describe how angry and sad he felt. 

“They killed my dad in the most brutal and savage way. You don’t get those kind of injuries my dad sustained if they were not trying to end his life. How is this fair? He has left a son without a father, mother without a son and siblings without a brother.

“As an only child, I feel I need to fight for him to the end. It won’t bring him back but hopefully with the help of the court we can get some form of justice for him. My family and I will never be able to move on. But these two people [his father’s killers] will move on like he was nothing.” 

A victim statement was also made by the family of the late Mr Hourihane: “Our lives changed instantly and irrevocably when Timmy’s head was kicked in and he was left for dead by two violent people in an unprovoked, prolonged and brutal attack. He was left almost unrecognisable to family members who identified his body.” 

They said it clearly emerged from court proceedings “how horrific and terrifying his death was”. 

Specifically addressing Christopher O’Sullivan, the Hourihane family said: “With a history of brutal and violent behaviour he knew well the outcome of what he was doing. He still had the presence of mind to burn his bloody clothes in a nearby fire while Timothy lay dying. 

"We cannot understand how a human being could do this. For us it is a life sentence.” 

Det Supt Comyns said at the time of this fatal attack a number of homeless people had set up a tented village on fields in the Mardyke, near the skate park and partly visible from the road.


Christopher O’Sullivan’s 37th birthday fell on October 12, 2019. He is now 40. He spent the day drinking. There had been some tensions in this tented village in the days beforehand. A number of the parties returned to the area after midnight (October 13). Extensive CCTV and several eyewitness accounts established what happened next.

“Mr Hourihane headed towards his tent. [Witnesses] saw Mr Hourihane almost immediately being set upon by Mr Brady, who was finger-pointing and pushing. Mr O’Sullivan was being held back by [his then partner, from whom he is now estranged].

“Mr Hourihane was severely assaulted on a grass verge. Originally, it was aggressive shouting but this turned almost immediately into the assault — kicking and stamping on Mr Hourihane. He suffered severe facial trauma, brain swelling, broken facial bones, battering of teeth. One tooth was recovered [on post mortem examination] in the stomach of Mr Hourihane,” Det Supt Comyns testified.

Christopher O’Sullivan’s partner tried unsuccessfully to pull him away again during the assault.

Siobhán Lankford, prosecution senior counsel, asked who was more heavily involved in the assault. The detective replied, “Witnesses stated that Mr O’Sullivan continued the assault after Mr Brady had withdrawn. Mr O’Sullivan had to be pulled away from Mr Hourihane.” 

O’Sullivan threw his own top into Mr Hourihane’s tent which was set on fire. He disposed of more clothing in another fire closer to his own tent.

The accused had very serious previous convictions. These included one of assault causing serious harm in 2007 to a man who sustained catastrophic injuries to his face when he was attacked in the door of a house. 

“It bears a lot of similarities to the assault on Mr Hourihane. Following that assault [in 2007] he asked other people to take the injured party out of the building and leave him lying prone on the roadside,” Det Supt Comyns said.

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