Thursday 30 March 2017

Attacker may have followed Maynooth student from bus - gardaí confirm

Alan O'Keeffe

The brutal attacker who caused horrific head and facial injuries to a university student may have fled with visible marks on his clothing or body, said a garda chief today.

Garda Superintendent Gerry Wall spoke at the scene of the savage attack in Maynooth to appeal to the public for help in their investigation.

Supt Gerry Wall speaks to the media in the Moyglare Abbey estate in Maynooth where Kym Owens was assaulted on Sunday evening. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Supt Gerry Wall speaks to the media in the Moyglare Abbey estate in Maynooth where Kym Owens was assaulted on Sunday evening. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Gardai in the Moyglare Abbey estate in Maynooth where Kym Owens was assaulted Photo: Gerry Mooney

Gardai have named the 18-year-old student as Kym Owens from Castleblaney, Co Monaghan.

The attacker may have been "in an agitated state" and it was possible someone in the Maynooth area encountered someone with marks of their clothing, he said.

It was "very, very possible" that the unknown attacker or attackers could have travelled on the same bus as Kym into Maynooth on Sunday night and gardai were keeping all possibilities open regarding the assailant.

Kym (18), a Bachelor of Arts student, was walking to her digs at the entrance of the Moyglare Abbey estate on Sunday shortly before 8.30pm when she was subjected to the sudden violent attack.

Kym Owens. Picture released to help with investigation.
Kym Owens. Picture released to help with investigation.

Kym remains in "a serious condition" in the intensive care unit of Blanchardstown Hospital today and her parents have asked for their privacy to be respected, he said.

"She is receiving magnificent care'" said the garda superintendent based in Leixlip where a garda incident room has been set up with a public hotline 01 6667800.

The scene of the incident in Maynooth, Co Kildare (Photo: Colin O'Riordain)
The scene of the incident in Maynooth, Co Kildare (Photo: Colin O'Riordain)

"We appeal to the public...their information is vital, however trivial it seems, as it could be the vital link," he said.

Gardai will meet with student leaders at Maynooth University at 4pm today and address students about the attack and ask for help for the investigation.

Superintendent Wall said gardai had given safety advice to first year students at the beginning of the academic year.

"Young women should not walk alone at night and always tell friends or family where they are going and what time they were expected to arrive," he said.

Moyglare Abbey estate in Maynooth where Kym Owens was assaulted on Sunday evening. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Moyglare Abbey estate in Maynooth where Kym Owens was assaulted on Sunday evening. Photo: Gerry Mooney

"It was a well lit road but there were very foggy conditions which reduced the visibility," said the garda chief, describing local conditions when the crime occurred.

"Kym is five feet three inches tall...with long brown hair. She was wearing a dark green coat with a hood. She also wore a red hoodie and black jeans," he said.

The scene of the incident in Maynooth, Co Kildare (Photo: Colin O'Riordain)
The scene of the incident in Maynooth, Co Kildare (Photo: Colin O'Riordain)

She wore white runners and carried a distinctive green bag with a yellow handle with the work Castleblaney on the side of the bag.

The private bus service she used to travel from Castleblaney to Maynooth on Sunday night began in Monaghan town and travelled to Carrickmacross before picking up Kym in Castleblaney. The bus picked people up at later stops, including Arden and Slane.

Gardai were ruling no possibilities out, including the possibility the attack travelled on the bus.

CCTV footage that night would have been compromised by very foggy conditions.

The crime was "quite violent in its nature," he said.

Kym suffered broken eye sockets, a broken jaw, a smashed nose, and she lost several teeth in the attack.

There are 11,000 students living in the small town and such an attack is a "rare event" in the area, he said.

Students have been warned to take extra precautions to ensure their safety in the wake of the savage attack.

Speaking in advance of a gathering of student leaders called to discuss safety, Annie Hoey, Union of Students Ireland President said: “We want all students to be safe and happy this winter, and to avoid the hazards of the season. We’re asking students to take three simple precautions to stay safe and sound this winter."

Ms Hoey warned students to "take care to walk wherever you need to go via a well lit path".

"Avoid darker areas, because it’s easier to trip or fall on leaves or ice if you can’t see them - let alone any other risks that could be lurking there.  If there are unlit areas in or around your campus, see it as your duty to let the Students’ Union know so they can do something about it.

"Secondly, make sure you’re visible. The time for dressing in dark colours is the summer, when everyone can see them - and in winter, High Vis is the new black, particularly when walking in poorly lit areas off the beaten track, or where you’ll be walking close to traffic.  If you’re jogging, cycling or running, don’t even think about hitting the path without glowing like a christmas tree.

"Thirdly, make sure people know where you are and where you’re going. It’s always best at this time of year to walk in groups - there’s safety in numbers and, if the weather gets colder, snow angels are more fun with company.  If that’s not possible, a quick text saying where you’re going to and from, along with your expected arrival time makes sense."

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