independent

Friday 18 April 2014

Italian man charged with killing Tom O'Gorman

Saverio Bellante, inset, arrives in a Garda van at Blanchardstown district court this morning

AN Italian man has been charged with the murder of Tom O'Gorman, who was found stabbed to death and mutilated following a game of chess at his north Dublin home.

Saverio Bellante (34) was brought before Blanchardstown District Court this morning accused of killing the religious writer in Castleknock yesterday.

He was arrested following the violent death of Mr O'Gorman (39), who was attacked after what gardai believe to have been a dispute over a chess game. The gruesome murder scene is said to have been so shocking, investigating gardai may need counselling.

Bellante was remanded in custody for a week after Judge David McHugh was told the accused replied to the charge: "I am guilty".

The defendant, who had been lodging with Mr O'Gorman, is charged with his murder at Beech Park Avenue, Castleknock between January 11 and 12.

Dressed in a black sweater and trousers and grey runners, he told the court he wished to legally represent himself in the case.

The dead man had worked as a researcher with catholic advocacy group the Iona institute, was a former journalist and was a Minister of the Eucharist.

In court today, Det Gda Patrick Traynor told the court he arrested the defendant for the purpose of charge at 11.33pm last night at Blanchardstown Garda Station.

Bellante was charged at 12.05am this morning and replied: "I am guilty", the garda said.

Judge McHugh noted that the defendant had no solicitor representing him in court. He said he would let the case stand in the morning's list for the accused to be informed of his rights.

However, a garda told the judge this had been discussed and "he's happy to represent himself".

"She questioned me if I wanted to represent myself and the answer is yes", the defendant said.

Judge McHugh remanded him in custody to appear in Cloverhill District Court on January 17. He directed that the accused be medically assessed and said he would leave this to the prison authorities.

The fatal attack happened at around 1.50am on Sunday. Gardaí responded to a 999 call and found the victim in the house, a large detached property in a middle-class area.

The accused, who is from Palermo in Sicily, was arrested at the house and taken to Blanchardstown garda station, where he was detained under section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act before being charged.

The body remained at the scene overnight and underwent a preliminary examination this morning at the scene by State Pathologist Prof Marie Cassidy.

The remains were then removed to the city morgue, in Marino, north Dublin, for a full postmortem.The property where he was murdered was Mr O’Gorman’s childhood family home. He had continued to live there since the death of his mother Ann in 2012.

His father Tom, who had worked as a vet, is also deceased.

His brother Paul lives in Donegal and his sister Catherine lives in London.

Mr O’Gorman worked as a researcher for the Iona Institute, a Dublin-based Catholic advocacy group that promotes the place of marriage and religion in society.

The group is headed by well known social commentator David Quinn, who last night expressed the group’s “total shock and deep sorrow” at what he called his colleague’s “terrible and untimely” death.

Senior garda officers have commended the “superb professionalism” of the two young officers who were first at the bloody scene - a male and female - who arrested the suspect and secured the house at Beech Park Avenue, Castleknock. The two officers have since been offered counselling.

“No-one should have to see what those young gardai from Blanchardstown station saw yesterday morning - it was the most gruesome scene imaginable - but they did their jobs in a truly professional manner” a senior source said.

Neighbours paid tribute to Mr O'Gorman, with one local woman describing him as “a very nice, quiet, very intelligent man.”

“Poor Tom, Lord have mercy on him, did not deserve that,” she said.

“He was so quiet and reserved and was from a very respectable family. I woke up last night and saw the garda van with the blue lights flashing but I’d no idea what had happened.”

Another neighbour said: “Tom was a very quiet, inoffensive, and private man from a quiet family. He was an ideal neighbour. Everyone is very shocked. He was a very knowledgable man. A more unobtrusive young man you could not meet.

“Our hearts go out to his family. It’s a sad day for everyone,” he added.

Mr O’Gorman had attended the local primary school and Castleknock College secondary school before studying at University College, Dublin, where he earned B.A. and M. Litt degrees.

He had worked as a researcher for the Iona Institute for the past seven years and had contributed articles to several religious newspapers in Ireland, the US, and around the world, including The Irish Catholic.

He was described as very devout and was a Minister of the Eucharist at the Our Lady Mother of the Church parish in Castleknock.

Local priest Fr Dennis O’Connor told The Herald: “It is very upsetting what has happened. Tom was a very nice and intelligent man who was a Minister of the Eucharist here. He was a very valued and highly regarded member of the community. There is great sorrow and upset in the parish.

“His mother died not long ago and he is with her now. He has taken his place at the heavenly table,” he said.

Andrew Phelan

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