Hate-related motive considered by gardai investigating murders of men in Sligo

Aidan Moffitt and Michael Snee were found dead in their own homes this week having suffered extensive injuries.

13 April 2022

Irish police are investigating a potential hate-related motive in the murders of two men who may have met their killer online.

Gardai have launched two separate murder investigations following the violent deaths of Aidan Moffitt, 42, and Michael Snee, 58, in the town of Sligo on the west coast.

Both men were found dead in their own homes this week having suffered extensive injuries.

A man in his 20s was arrested on suspicion of murder after the discovery of Mr Snee’s body in his apartment on Connaughton Road at around 10.30pm on Tuesday evening.

The suspect, who was detained in Sligo town at around 1.45am on Wednesday morning, remained in custody on Wednesday evening.

Mr Moffitt’s body was discovered in his house in Cartron Heights at around 8.30pm on Monday.

Garda chief superintendent Aidan Glacken said gardai were keeping an “open mind” in regard to motivation.

“Michael and Aidan were well known and respected in this community,” he told reporters in Sligo.

“They were assaulted and murdered in their own homes.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with their families at this time and indeed their friends and the wider community in Sligo.”

Mr Glacken said gardai were investigating whether the two victims met their attacker online.

“We are actively investigating as to whether there is any hate-related motive to these murders,” he said.

Sligo deaths
Garda superintendent Aidan Glacken (Niall Carson/PA)

“An Garda Siochana will endeavour to seek out all the available evidence and ultimately it will be for a court to decide on the motivation behind these appalling crimes.”

The chief superintendent said officers were examining another recent incident in the Sligo area as part of the murder probes.

“I am appealing to any person who may have been subject to any unwanted approaches or who was assaulted or otherwise attacked to contact the incident room at Sligo Garda station,” he added.

“I have a dedicated diversity team here, we need to hear from you, we are here to listen to you and we are here to support you.”

Mr Glacken said substantial Garda resources were being deployed to the investigations, with regional and national units involved.

He said a post-mortem examination had been carried out on Mr Moffitt’s body on Tuesday and one would be conducted for Mr Snee later on Wednesday.

The body of Mr Snee was removed from the property on Wednesday afternoon.

Sligo deaths
Gardai at the scene in Connaughton Road, Sligo, Ireland, following the death of Michael Snee (Niall Carson/PA)

The chief superintendent said he could not comment further on the arrest of the suspect.

Ireland’s Justice minister Helen McEntee branded the murders as “atrocious crimes”.

Speaking to media after a cabinet meeting in Dublin, Ms McEntee said: “I know there’s a lot of people coming to terms with what’s happened in Sligo in recent days and I just firstly want to offer my sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Aidan Moffitt and indeed to the man who was killed last night.

“These really were atrocious crimes and I just want people to know that we there for them, we are there for the community but also An Garda Siochana is there for the community.

“I’ve spoken to the Garda commissioner (Drew Harris) this morning and he has assured me that every effort is being made to make sure that whoever or whomever was responsible for these crimes that they are brought to justice.

“I also just want to say that I know it’s been a difficult week for the LGBT community.

“There have been a number of incidents which I think have upset and have been distressing for people, speaking to my own friends indeed I would include in that.

“These are incidents that we thought were behind us and again I just want to reassure people that any crimes that are motivated by hate or by prejudice or by discrimination will not be tolerated, will carry higher sentences, and I hope to introduce the hate crime bill (in the Dail) in a number of weeks to respond to that.”

Irish premier Micheal Martin expressed his concern at the killings.

“I urge anyone with any information to contact gardai,” he tweeted.

Deputy premier Tanaiste Leo Varadkar said: “What happened is unspeakable and hard to fathom.”

A photo of Aidan Moffitt at the scene in Cartron Heights, Sligo, Ireland (Niall Carson/PA)
A photo of Aidan Moffitt at the scene in Cartron Heights, Sligo, Ireland (Niall Carson/PA)

In a statement, a spokeswoman for LGBT Ireland said that the country is shocked by the “heinous crimes” in Sligo.

Paula Fagan, CEO of LGBT Ireland, also highlighted a separate incident in Dublin at the weekend when a man was attacked in a suspected homophobic incident.

“This has been a dark week for the LGBTI+ community in Ireland,” she said.

“We are still reeling from the vicious homophobic assault on Dame Street in Dublin in recent days and now we are deeply saddened by events in Sligo.

“Our thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones.

“These devastating crimes bring to the fore the need for comprehensive hate crime legislation, and I, along with other sectoral representatives, will be speaking with lawmakers over the coming days to stress the need for them to redouble their efforts and ensure the forthcoming legislation is effective, comprehensive and enacted with urgency.

“The LGBTI+ community has the right to feel and be safe on our streets and online.”

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