NewsCrime Desk

Suspect in horror fire attack severely burned himself during incident

The house where the brutal attack occurred in Offally
The house where the brutal attack occurred in Offally

The chief suspect in the attack on a man who suffered burns to 90pc of his body and was stabbed up to 15 times also burned himself in the incident, the Herald can reveal.

Drug dealer Ciaran Murphy (24) remains in a serious condition in hospital over seven weeks after the attack, but is now expected to survive.

A massive garda investigation is continuing into the brutal attack in Rhode, Co Offaly, shortly before 2am on Monday, September 7. A chief suspect has now been identified.

Sources have revealed that the suspect - who has links to a well-known dissident Republican - was also severely burned in the fire and had to seek hospital treatment. He has since been jailed in relation to separate crimes.

Gardai have also identified a woman who sources said was "central" to the brutal attack.

There have been no arrests so far, but sources said that forensic evidence in the case had been crucial in progressing the investigation.

A number of men are expected to be brought in for questioning in the near future.

"Gardai know what happened - there will be developments," a source said last night.

Murphy has been a prominent target of officers. In May of this year, a house linked to him was searched and cannabis and cocaine was found there - but he was not charged in relation to that seizure.

Last month's attack took place at a house on a road leaving the village, towards Rochfortbridge, near Co Westmeath.

The Herald previously revealed that gardai believe that the attack is drugs-related and that Mr Murphy has been involved in a long-running dispute with a Co Westmeath criminal. It is understood that the dispute centres around a drugs debt which Murphy believed he didn't have to pay.

Murphy has a number of previous criminal convictions, including a six-month suspended sentence at Tullamore Circuit Court in July of last year, and a conviction for drug possession in Edenderry in 2011.

He is a dog breeder and a number of his pit bulls were burnt to death in last month's attack.

Ken Foy