NewsCrime Desk

Man killed in Dublin beaten to death with 'stick-like weapon'

Gardai at the scene where the body was found
Gardai at the scene where the body was found

Gardai believe a man found beaten to death with a "stick-like" weapon in a mountain forest may have been involved in a dispute over land.

The chief suspect in the killing of Michael McCoy was known to the victim.

He was arrested for questioning at Tallaght garda station last night.

The 64-year-old victim lived in Ballinascorney Upper, Brittas, Co Dublin, and was a passionate conservationist.

The father-of-three had been secretary of the Dublin Mountain Conservation and Environmental Group.

A 41-year-old man was questioned yesterday by detectives before being released last night. A file is being prepared for the DPP.

The body was found on Ballinascorney Hill in the early hours of Friday on a mountain path after an extensive search.

It is believed Mr McCoy left his home to walk his two boxer dogs early on Thursday morning and failed to return home.

After the body was found, his grieving family issued an appeal for help to find one of the dogs, which has failed to return home.

Mr McCoy's daughter Rachel issued a public appeal on Facebook seeking help in finding the family's beloved pet boxer Fia.

She stated: "Fia our boxer is still missing in the Ballinascorney area after my dad was assaulted. Please share and help find her."

His niece, artist Kirstin McCoy, urged people to come forward with any information on the killing. In a message on social media, she said: "I'm in total shock that my kind and gentle uncle has been murdered while out for a walk at Ballinascorney, Dublin Mountains."

A team of gardai continued searching the local forest and surrounding fields yesterday near the place where Mr McCoy's body was found.

The area remained sealed off as officers combed the surrounding undergrowth.

Gardai arrested a man at around 5pm on Saturday.

Following a post-mortem examination at Tallaght Hospital, carried out by State Pathologist Linda Mulligan, it emerged that Mr McCoy died as a result of injuries inflicted by an attacker or attackers.

Garda Superintendent Peter Duff from Tallaght garda station asked anyone who may have information to come forward.

"We have established this man was last seen at six o'clock on Thursday morning," he said.

"His family had left to go to work and that evening realised he had not returned home, and they reported their concerns to Tallaght garda station."

Gardai, assisted by the helicopter unit, searched the area and as darkness fell requested assistance from the Dublin Wicklow Mountain Rescue Service.

Two members of the service discovered the body lying on the path at around 5.30am on Friday.

"The post-mortem indicates that he died of an assault. There were head injuries," said Superintendent Duff.

"It's a very isolated area, a kilometre-and-a-half off the main road. We would appeal to anyone who was in the area, it's used by recreational hill walkers and people on mountain bikes. It's a popular area," added Supt Duff, who said there have been no recent reports of anti-social activity in the location.

Supt Duff explained that the victim, who was retired, would regularly walk his dogs along the gravel paths in the woods.

The murdered man was a passionate conservationist who was involved in a large number of objections to proposed developments in the Dublin Mountains.

He was a leading member of the Dublin Mountain Conservation Group and took a keen interest in projects that threatened the scenic beauty or flora and fauna of the landscapes, which extend for miles around his rural home high above Dublin City, at Ballinascorney Road Upper, in Brittas, Co Dublin.

He was a qualified carpenter and he went on to work as a builder on several projects in the Dublin area.

Members of the local community said the McCoy family were highly respected and were valued members of the Church of Ireland community. Their three daughters grew up at their home in Ballinascorney.

Mr McCoy (64) had retired from the building industry and his wife Catriona continued to work as a teacher in a multi-denominational school in Glasnevin, on Dublin's northside.

Neighbours Patrick Cullen (58) and his brother Michael Cullen (65) said they were shocked at the killing. "This is very sad news. It's a dangerous world we live in," said Michael.

"He was a quiet, kind person. This is a terrible shock that affects everyone living in this area," said Patrick.