A terrible thing | 

Heart-broken brother of murdered Tommy O’Halloran says he was a ‘very kind person’

‘There were 14 of us, brothers and sisters. And now there are only three of us left now Tommy has gone’

Tommy O'Halloran

Neil FetherstonhaughSunday World

The heart-broken brother of Irish busker Tommy O’Halloran who was brutally stabbed to death as he rode his mobility scooter along the street close to his London home said he was a “very kind person who would get along with anybody”.

Mr O'Halloran (87) who raised funds for Ukrainian refugees by busking with his accordion, was murdered in Greenford on Tuesday afternoon in what police called a “shocking act of unprovoked violence”.

Lee Byer (44) of Southall appeared in court charged with his murder and was remanded in custody at Willesden Magistrates' Court.

He is expected to appear at the Old Bailey next Tuesday.

In the meantime, his tearful younger brother George revealed that while Tommy had left Ennistymon 70 years ago to find better opportunities in London he still came back home every year.

“Tommy was a kind and gentle man. He was a very kind person who would get along with anybody. This was a terrible thing to have happened.”

George, a retired fireman, and his brother were one of 14 children born in a tiny thatched cottage on the outskirts of Ennistymon.

“It did not have any electricity or running water. We would sleep in the cottage, wash and shave at the well across the road, and go to the lavatory in a bush. It was another time,” Grego added.

'There were 14 of us, brothers and sisters. And now there are only three of us left now Tommy has gone. Me and his brother Dickie and sister Brigid,' George said.

“He loved to play music,” George said. “He did not drink or smoke but he could sit in a bar all night long with a bottle of coke and listen to the band play.”

Dickie O'Halloran (77) Thomas’s other brother can no longer speak or walk after suffering a stroke, but his wife Cosima said he broke down in tears when he saw news of his brother's violent death in London.

Speaking at Dickie's bedside, she told MailOnline: 'Dickie is not well. He cannot speak properly any longer and can no longer walk.

'But when he saw on the news that Tommy had been murdered tears started running down his face. They were such good friends. Tommy and Dickie shared a love of music. He would send us films of him playing via Facebook.”

George added: 'Our father Thomas and mother loved music. So we were brought up listening to music. That is where Tommy got his love of music. And he was good at school and became interested in electronics.

'He worked at the electrical shop in town, fixing radios and televisions, as they started to come in. Then he moved to London. But he always came back. Every year.

'He always had three-wheel vehicles. He never drove a four-wheel car. He had a Robin Reliant, a bright green one. He drove it to Ireland and parked it in town and people stopped and starred at it, looking for the fourth wheel!

"And he loved motorcycles with a side car. The last time I saw him was three years ago, at our brother Gerard's funeral. It was great to see him. And he always kept in touch.”

George’s son and Thomas O’Halloran’s nephew, Thomas O’Halloran Jnr, told Irish broadcaster RTE: “It’s complete numbness with the loss of our uncle.

“It’s been horrendous, absolutely terrifying that something like this could happen to such a gentle, kind person.

Mr O’Halloran said his uncle was “always caring, always giving”.

He added: “Great musical talent, just an all-round good person that always did his best to give back to everybody around him. He’s the type of guy that would give the shirt off his back.”

Mr O’Halloran Jnr added: “At that stage in somebody’s life, to reach 87 is a feat in itself, but to be tragically taken away from his direct family and his extended family here in Ireland, it’s senseless. Absolutely senseless.

“The violence, seemingly for no particular reason, which has completely shocked all of us. It’s numbing, it’s unbearable to think about.”

Today's Headlines

More Irish News

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices