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Final photo of tragic Paul ‘Babs’ Connolly who died after assault in Athlone

Sources said he left the stag group and had a dispute with another man – who was not known to him – in the town which led to an assault.

Paul 'Babs' Connolly

Paul 'Babs' Connolly

Paul ‘Babs’ Connolly shortly before the assault that left him dead

Paul ‘Babs’ Connolly shortly before the assault

Gardai at the scene of the death in Athlone, Co. Westmeath

Gardai at the scene of the death in Athlone, Co. Westmeath

Alan Sherry and Pat O'ConnellSunday World

This is the last picture taken of a stag party reveller shortly before he died following a vicious street assault.

Paul ‘Babs’ Connolly (48) from Edenderry, Co Offaly, died from injuries he sustained in the attack in Athlone, Co Westmeath at 2.35am yesterday.

Mr Connolly had been drinking with pals in the Prince of Wales Hotel, where this picture was taken shortly before the fatal assault.

Sources said he left the stag group and had a dispute with another man – who was not known to him – in the town which led to an assault.

Gardai are awaiting post-mortem results to determine whether Mr Connolly died as a result of a punch or if it was a result of hitting his head on the ground.

A 19-year-old man and a man in his 30s were arrested by officers investigating the fatal assault yesterday evening.

The scene at Church Street, Athlone

According to sources, the man in his 30s is from Roscommon and is currently out on bail. He has served several prison sentences and carried out a number of brutal unprovoked attacks against men and women.

A witness recorded a video of the incident which circulated on social media last night. The video shows a man remonstrating with Mr Connolly before another man comes up and hits him before he falls to the ground and hits his head.

The man appears to try and kick Mr Connolly while he is on ground.

Mr Connolly was previously convicted of dangerous driving causing death after he crashed his car into a van following a drinking session in Edenderry in May 2001.

His best friend Francis Cooley, who was a passenger in Mr Connolly’s vehicle, died in the accident, which occurred after Mr Connolly lost control on a left-hand turn before crashing into the van.

He admitted to gardai that he had drank 17 or 18 pints before getting into his Mazda MX sports car to drive to Rathangan in Co. Kildare.

He suffered serious injuries himself in the crash and was left distraught over his friend’s death.

He was given a two-year suspended sentence after the sister of Mr Cooley pleaded for leniency in the case. The court heard he had previous convictions for assault and public order offences.

The scene at Church Street, Athlone

Mr Connolly worked at Ray’s Roofing and Home Renovation in Co. Meath and was popular among his colleagues.

His boss and friend Ray Kelly said he spoke to Mr Connolly hours before he was killed.

“I was only talking to him yesterday evening and he was looking forward to going away for the night. He didn’t go out much anymore. I’d say it was the first time he was out in God knows how long.

“It was unbelievable waking up to the news. If we were finishing a job he’d always stay and get it done. He was always trying to help me. It’s devastating.”

“He’d go the extra mile all the time. Every day no matter how bad form people were in he’d make you laugh. I got very fond of him. He only did a couple of days a week, but you’d look forward to him being around.

“It’s hasn’t really hit home yet.”

Mr Connolly, who was single, lived on Assumption Road in Edenderry. He had lived with his mother, who passed away recently.

“He’ll be missed. His mother just passed away a couple of months ago and his nephew passed away in England. They’ve had a hard time of it the last few months,” added Mr Kelly.

Edenderry Councillor Robert McDermott said Mr Connolly’s death has had a devastating impact on the town. “I am very shocked and saddened to hear of Paul ‘Babs’ Connolly’s death. Paul was from a very popular and well respected family in Edenderry. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family today.”

An incident room has been established Athlone Garda Station under the direction of a Senior Investigating Officer.

“Any person who may have any video footage of this incident, including mobile phone footage or any road users who may have camera footage (including dash-cam) and were travelling in the Church Street area between 2am and 2:45am are asked to make this footage available to Gardaí.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact Athlone Garda Station on 090 6492600, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111, or any Garda Station.

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