Horror crimes  | 

Gardai probe if brutal murders of two men in Sligo and attack on third are linked

It’s understood Gardai tracked the man in custody through a well-known website.

The scene of a second murder in Sligo last night at City View, Connaughton Road. Pic: Donal Hackett.

Neil Fetherstonhaugh and Ken Foy

Gardai believe the murder and mutilation of two men in Sligo town in recent days may be linked as they continue to question a man in his 20s over one of the killings.

It is understood that a third attack in the area, which left a man with serious eye injuries, is also connected to the murders.

The wounds inflicted on the latest victim, a man in his 50s, who was found dead in an apartment at Connaughton Road at 10.30pm on Tuesday night are believed to be similar to those discovered on the body of Aidan Moffitt.

The 41-year-old was found dead in his home in Cartron, 2km outside the town with what gardaí described as “significant physical injuries”.

It is also believed that both men met their attacker online.

The late Mr Aidan Moffitt who was found brutally murdered in his home in Sligo.

Gardai said that at approximately 1.45am this morning, “following intense local Garda activity and enquiries”, gardaí in Sligo assisted by the Armed Support Unit arrested a male in his early 20s in Sligo town on suspicion of murder.

He was arrested in relation to the murder of the man in his 50s who was found dead in his apartment on Tuesday night.

It’s understood Gardai tracked the man in custody through a well-known website.

Sources said they are working on the theory that the three incidents are linked.

“This male is currently detained under the provision of section 4 Criminal Justice Act 1984 at Sligo Garda Station,” gardaí said in a statement.

Gardaí in Sligo are appealing for any person with any information on this incident to make contact.

Investigating Gardaí can be contacted at a dedicated phone number at the incident room in Sligo Garda Station at 071 9157088, the Garda Confidential Line phone number 1800 666 111, or any Garda Station.

Footage seen by Sunday World appears to show gardaí removing several people from a property on Mail Coach Road, about 1km from Connaughton Road, in the early hours of this morning.

It has been reported that a second property on Markievicz Heights, just outside the town, was raided by armed gardaí around the same time.

Mr Moffitt, who worked in the property sector and was a peace commissioner for his local area, served on a voluntary basis on a number of local communities and was very active with the Fine Gael party.

Fianna Fail TD, Marc MacSharry, who knew Mr Moffitt personally, said the town has been left reeling by the events of the last two days.

“I'm listening to the news here and I’m in shock,” Deputy MacSharry said.

“There has been a lot of text messages (circulating) locally and I mean it's just total shock.

“The indications about it (Mr Moffitt's murder) being hate or homophobic related are really chilling.

“Unfortunately, when these things happen, I would hate to think that there was a focus on Sligo that says, ‘look, this is the centre for violence or this is the entre for a hate-filled attack'. It certainly isn't in that sense but of course everybody here is in shock.

“Both Aidan Moffitt and the name of the second victim that has been circulating would have been well known and well respected, nice people.

Fine Gael activist Blaine Gaffney arrives with flowers where body was found

"Aidan had worked in the Bank of Ireland in Dublin and was very well known and respected. He was involved in political circles and always had a smile and a courteous hello and engagement with anybody who came across him.

"I knew him personally. He would have been involved in Fine Gael locally and while I’m not Fine Gael, we all would have known each other. And while some people might have that competitive political edge, he didn't. He was an absolute gentleman.

I live in Strandhill in Sligo and he lived in Strandhill for a period. I used to bump into him in the local and we’d have word and a chat."

Deputy MacSharry added: “If this happened in Dublin city, or Cork, or Kerry or Waterford, the shock would be equal. We're just not used this kind of (violence), certainly not in a town like Sligo."

Meanwhile, tributes have been paid to Mr Moffitt, who his friend, Blaine Gaffney, described as a very positive person who "lit up the world".

Mr Gaffney told RTÉ's Morning Ireland that they became friends through political circles and Mr Moffitt was an "all round good guy" who was caring and dignified.

Anyone who went to him for business advice sang his praises because of his attention to detail, he added.

Mr Gaffney said he had been talking to Mr Moffitt during his recent holiday in Spain.

He said he heard on Monday night that "something horrendous" had happened in Cartron Heights and later got a photo on WhatsApp that showed a house on Mr Moffitt's street and then learned in the same way that the victim was his friend.

"It was a very undignified way to find out about it, but that's the world we live in," he said.

Mr Gaffney said it was "chilling and scary" to think that Mr Moffitt's death could have been hate motivated.

"You'd never say the words hate and Aidan. He lit up the world. He had this really infectious smile."

According to RTE, gardaí were called to Mr Moffitt's home in Cartron Heights at around 8.30pm on Monday after being alerted by friends who became concerned when they were unable to make contact with him.

Mr Moffitt was originally from Co Roscommon and worked in the financial services sector.

He also canvassed for Fine Gael during a number of election campaigns in recent years.

Tánaiste and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar said his thoughts are with Mr Moffitt's family and friends.

Mr Moffitt was a member of the Fine Gael party and "a branch secretary and a branch chairperson".

Mr Varadkar urged anyone with any information to come forward.

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