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Killers tracked down stabbing victim after door-to-door hunt

Karl Haugh
Karl Haugh

The killers of a young father went knocking from door to door looking for their victim, locals in Kilkee have said.

Karl Haugh (25) was brutally stabbed in the Marion Estate in Kilkee, Co Clare, by a number of men about 1.15am on Sunday.

The father of one was knifed several times and although he was rushed to Limerick University Hospital, he was later pronounced dead.

Neighbours described how several young men were seen knocking on the doors of a number of homes on the estate looking for Mr Haugh.

"They were all young men, around the same age as Karl," said one resident. "I'm not sure what time they were doing it at, but it was certainly in the build-up to the attack.

"I'm sure the guards know who was involved at this stage and hopefully they will all be brought to justice."

A woman from the same estate also spoke of several suspected assailants in the area on Saturday night.

"It's an awful thing to have happened. Karl was so young and had his whole life ahead of him," she said.

Gardaí have since recovered a knife which they believe was used in the stabbing. Three men have been arrested and are being questioned at various stations in Co Clare. So far, no one has been charged in relation to the killing.

Supt John Galvin of Kilrush Garda station said several people were present at the time of the attack.

"What we can now say is that a number of people were involved in this incident and we are continuing to make further inquires," he said.

Supt Galvin went on to say that an incident room had been set up in Kilrush Garda station and a liaison officer had been appointed for Mr Haugh's family.

He added that the laneway where the incident occurred would be sealed off until the Garda forensic team finish its assessment.

Mr Haugh, known to friends as 'Gobbo', was from a well-known local family.

The young man previously survived a crash in 2003 that killed his older sister Stacey.

Mr Haugh was just 11 when the car he was travelling in with Stacey (16) and Lorna Mahoney (13) crashed at Moyarta Carrigaholt. The car was driven by then 15-year-old David Naughton.

The girls died at the scene while Karl subsequently underwent heart surgery in Dublin with a 20pc chance of living, but he survived.

As news of the fatal attack reached the popular seaside town, many locals told of their shock.

"Karl was very popular around the town and would always salute me whenever he saw me walking past," said one neighbour. "I saw him grow up since the day he was born and when I heard what happened I nearly passed out with the shock."

It is understood that Mr Haugh had recently become a father to a baby girl and had returned to college.

Yesterday morning, friends took to Facebook to pay tribute, with one woman saying: "Kilkee will never be the same without you. I can't believe we woke up to the news you were gone Gobbo. We were just with your mother. She's in bits. She doesn't know what to do with herself. You changed your whole life for the better with college and a six-month baby girl. RIP Gobbo, you're loved and going to be missed by so many."

Another friend posted that she hoped Mr Haugh would "sleep tight".

"Say hi to Stacey for us, I know she's up there waiting for you," she said.

Detectives hope to speak to all those who were present at the time of the attack.

A senior source said this attack was not connected to any gangland feud and was most likely as a result of a local dispute.

"These men would be known to each other. They are not considered serious criminals," they said.

"This would appear to be a fight that may have just got out of hand."

Clare councillor Cathal Crowe said: "Kilkee is a bustling tourist town that's renowned for being safe, friendly and welcoming to all.

"This awful incident has left the people of the locality reeling with shock and deep sadness."

Gardaí have appealed to witnesses who may have been in the area at the time of the incident or have information to contact them at Kilrush Garda station 065-9080550, the Garda Confidential Telephone Line 1800 666 111 or any Garda station.