A MAN suspected of murdering his wife drank two pints afterwards and then told his pub friend: "This is the last time you will see me."
Gardai arrested the husband of victim Patricia Kierans after a siege lasting almost eight hours in the pub and recovered a sawn-off shotgun.
The suspect, 56-year-old Oliver Kierans, of Drumbannon estate in Bailieborough, Co Cavan, was taken to Cavan General Hospital yesterday after he became ill while in garda custody. He is now under armed guard at the hospital.
After being discharged from hospital, he can be held for questioning for up to seven days from his arrest early yesterday morning. A post-mortem on the body of the Belfast-born mother of four was carried out by the state pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy at Our Lady of Lourdes hospital in Drogheda.
Gardai disclosed yesterday that Mrs Kierans (54) had been hit by a shotgun blast in an upstairs bedroom of the Drumbannon home she formerly shared with her husband.
Her body was found lying on the floor when gardai forced their way into the house on Thursday night after fears for her safety were raised by her sister and other family members when they could not make contact with her.
Gardai believe she had returned to the house to collect some belongings. She had not been living with her husband for the past eight or nine months and had moved in with her sister at her home in Cavan town.
Last night, they were making arrangements for a return home for their mother's funeral.
A local priest, Fr Oliver O'Reilly, said Mrs Kierans had sought help from him.
"She had confided in me quite a bit over the last year and she had expressed fear that her life was in danger," Fr O'Reilly said.
"I had got her professional help.
"I feel personally devastated, as well as the larger community, with what has happened." A sister of Oliver Kierans spoke of the upset and grief of the families following the violent death of Patricia.
His sister Majella, although reluctant to comment, said of the couple: "They were just two people who shouldn't have been together." She said their father Joseph was 79 and had suffered a great deal of tragedy even before this week's awful events.
Fighting back her tears outside her father's home in the old Drumbannon estate in Bailieborough, Majella said: "That is Oliver's father. He lost his wife when she was 38 years old to cancer. He lost a daughter at 29 to cancer.
"Two years ago, he lost another daughter to cancer at 55. That man did nothing only work. And he rang me last night and said to me: 'How are you.' I said: "Daddy I'm fine.' "My dad, that is my priority now."
Forensic Garda forensic officers have carried out a detailed examination of the siege scene at The Square bar in Market Square in Bailieborough and at the Kierans's house at Drumbannon.
Ballistic tests are also being completed on the seized shotgun to establish if it was the weapon used in the murder.
Gardai began their inquiries at around 6pm on Thursday when they spoke to Mrs Kierans's sister and other relatives.
Officers knew that Mr Kierans was a regular customer at The Square pub and decided to call there about an hour after their investigation began.
Mr Kierans had been in the pub for some time and had consumed two pints while talking to another customer, whom he knew.
Officers believe that he saw a garda approaching the pub and ran towards the basement, brandishing a sawn-off shotgun.
A garda spoke to Mr Kierans and then organised the evacuation of the handful of other customers and staff that were on the premises at the time before also withdrawing from the pub.
Mr Kierans refused to come out and the area was immediately sealed off. Officers then called to the house in Drumbannon and forced their way in.
Body After discovering the body of Mrs Kierans, they launched a murder investigation and the scene around the pub was declared a "crisis incident".
Cordons were set up in the Market Square with local gardai backed up by armed members of the regional support unit while officers from the emergency response unit and a trained negotiator from the Special Branch were summoned from Dublin.
A line of communication was set up with Mr Kierans, who was described as quite volatile.
As the siege continued, the cordon was widened and surrounding streets were also sealed off.
At 3.20am, Mr Kierans told the garda negotiator he was ready to leave and walked out through the back door of the pub, where he was arrested.
He was taken to Bailieborough garda station for questioning under section 50 of the Criminal Justice Act, 2007, which allowed for him to be held without charge for up to a week.
Speaking at the scene of the siege, Superintendent Dave Taylor said of the operation: "Last night was a very dangerous night.
"But we have trained professional people in place who at a moment's notice can come to a scene and assist the local garda management."
He issued an appeal to anybody, who might have spotted unusual or suspicious activity at Drumbannon between 9am and 7pm on Thursday, and to customers, who were in The Square bar between 4pm and 7pm the same day, to contact an incident room at 042 9694570, or the garda confidential line, 1800 666 111.
By Tom Brady Security Editor