A Garda forensics team was yesterday continuing to gather evidence of the frenzied attack that claimed the life of Christopher Mooney at the 60-year-old’s bungalow home on the Knockreagh Road outside Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan.
Forensic investigators could be seen examining blood smears on the front door while separate examinations were being carried out on a red van parked in the front driveway of the property.
The windscreen of the van had been smashed in and efforts had also been made to set the vehicle alight – with scorch marks visible above the vehicle’s fuel cap.
Sources were unwilling to comment on queries as to whether Mr Mooney may have sought refuge in the vehicle from his killer at some stage during the violent attack that claimed his life.
Sources say the dominant line of inquiry in the murder probe remains that Mr Mooney was killed by south Armagh man Kieran Hamill.
Hamill was knocked down and killed at Ballynacarry Bridge, 3km from the house, 30 minutes after Mr Mooney’s brother disturbed the killer at the scene.
It’s understood Mr Mooney’s brother – who was also assaulted by the killer when he entered the property at 6.30 am on Thursday – was able to give gardaí a “general description” of the killer.
But, forensic confirmation will be needed before Gardaí can definitively confirm construction worker Kieran Hamill’s identity as the killer.
It was previously reported that the killer, as he fled the scene, shouted: “He had it coming!”
Gardaí are continuing to hunt for links between Kieran Hamill and Christopher Mooney in an effort to determine for a motive for the frenzied and violent killing.
However, sources said yesterday investigators have no evidence , at this stage, to suggest that Christopher Mooney sexually abused Kieran Hamill as a minor.
The murdered man was jailed for sexual offences, against a male juvenile, 19 years ago and had been shunned by many in the local community as a result.
About eight years ago he was targeted in his home in a vigilante attack when two men broke in and assaulted him.
“There is no information available to us to suggest that the suspect in this case had been a victim of sexual assault by the deceased.
“Certainly, he had not made any complaint of this nature to gardaí or to anyone else who has been spoken to by gardaí at this juncture.”
It’s understood, however, that gardaí, as part of the probe, will examine if Kieran Hamill had been suffering mental health difficulties in recent months.
Kieran Hamill had repeatedly come to the attention of gardaí in the last 18 months of his life – including for violent offences.
He was charged with affray at an address in Castleblayney last May and was to appear in court on that charge later this month.
He was also before the courts charged with assault causing harm to a female and threatening a woman’s property on St. Stephen’s Day of last year.
He was due to appear in court in connection with those charges in February of next year.
Sources said, in the likely event DNA confirms Kieran Hamill’s identity as the killer, friends, relatives and associates will be spoken to in an effort to determine whether he held a grudge or personal against Mr Mooney and the reason for this.
But, equally, gardaí will also seek to determine whether mental health issues could have been a factor in what occurred.
Investigators have spoken with the driver and occupants of the vehicle that struck and fatally injured Kieran Hamill on Thursday morning.
They were from the North and are understood to have been on their way to work at the time of the crash.
Sources said they were uninjured and believe Kieran Hamill did not intentionally place himself in the path of the car.
The location of the crash, at Ballynacarry Bridge on the N53 between Castleblayney and Dundalk, is about 3km from the house where Mr Mooney was murdered.
Mr Hamill was walking northwards, in darkness, and had almost reached the border to cross into Armagh, when the car hit him. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
His death is believed to have been instant.
The funeral Mass of Christopher Mooney will take place at 11am on Monday, December 5 at St. Patrick’s Church, Broomfield.
Meanwhile, Mr Hamill’s funeral will take place at the same time on Monday morning in St Patrick’s Church, Crossmaglen.
Gardaí continue to appeal for witnesses.
In particular they are looking for anyone who was in the Broomfield area between 5am and 6.45am on Thursday, December 1.
“Gardaí continue to appeal for anyone who was in the Broomfield area between 5am and 6.45am on Thursday, December 1, 2022, particularly anyone with mobile phone footage or dashcam footage, to contact Castleblayney Garda Station on 042 974 0668 or the Garda Confidential Line on 1800-666-111,” a spokesperson said.