A “BREACH of community is how Kilcolman parish priest Fr Tony Mullane characterised the murder, three years ago, of pensioner James Mulqueen.
Fr Mullane was speaking on RTE’s Crime-Call on Tuesday night when both he and the Gardai appealed for help in resolving the crime.
Poignantly, the reconstruction included footage of Mr Mulqueen in a betting shop in Newcastle West a week before his death.
Fr Mullane described Kilcolman as a place built on friendship, support and community, which made Mr Mulqueen’s death all the more horrendous.
“It is a breach of community and it affects the confidence of the community,” he said.
But Det Inspector Eamon O’Neill, who is heading up the investigation which was upgraded to murder last month, believes the key to bringing the murderer to justice is also to be found within the community.
“The answer to this lies within the community,” he said. “Whoever has perpetrated this crime, it must have had a profound effect.”
That effect could include changes in character or behaviour.
“We believe because of a change of character, three years down the road, somebody may have confided in somebody and we appeal to them to contact us.”
Unfortunately, there was no immediate response to the Crime Call programme but Gardai are still hopeful the appeal will work.
The last known sighting of James Mulqueen was about mid-day on Thursday, October 22, 2009 when he collected water from a water-barrel outside his home at Kilmakeara, Kilcolman.
Less than 24 hours later, he was dead, his body discovered by a near neighbour who called to bring Mr Mulqueen to collect his pension.
Initially, Gardai believed his death was due to natural causes as Mr Mulqueen was 92 and relatively frail.
But a post-mortem coupled with signs of disturbance in the cottage pointed to foul play and an intensive garda investigation began, which included door-to-door calls and the amassing of some 1,400 separate pieces of evidence.
This included evidence that a sum of money was missing from the house.
Gardai also believe that it is highly likely that Mr Mulqueen knew his attacker or attackers as there was no forced entry.
A review of the case by the Serious Crime Unit last month upgraded the investigation to one of murder.
Mr Mulqeen was described as a quiet but independent man by his neighbours and those who knew him, a man with an appetite for news, newspapers and the horses and a man of habit.
His weekly routine involved going to Ardagh for his pension while once a fortnight he would travel to Newcastle West, visit the bookies and stop off for a quiet pint or two at Ned Lynch’s bar.
Speaking on the Crime Call programme, barstaff member Mary Sheehy described Mr Mulqueen as a very intelligent man. “It was a pleasure to serve him,” she said. Mr Lynch also spoke warmly about his loyal customer.
Anyone with any information, or who thinks they might have information, however slight, should contact Crime Call on 1800 40 50 60 or 01-6663444 or any garda station.