Father of two found stabbed to death in his city centre flat
A father of two whose body was found in his city centre apartment yesterday was stabbed several times in the throat and chest.
The victim of the horrific attack in the centre of Limerick was named last night as Martin Purcell (54), who was a native of the Fairgreen area of the city.
Shocked neighbours described him as "one of the nicest people you could meet, who wouldn't hurt a fly".
Gardai called to his apartment at Wickham Street at around 11am after they were alerted by neighbours, who became concerned because they had not seen Mr Purcell for several days.
They found him lying on the sitting room floor of the apartment with what appeared to be knife wounds.
Officers immediately sealed off the flat until the arrival of a team from the garda technical bureau in Dublin yesterday afternoon. They said the apartment had not been ransacked but acknowledged that they could not carry out a proper search until the forensic examination had been completed.
Assistant State Pathologist Dr Khalid Jabbar also took a close look at the scene before the body was removed to Limerick regional hospital for a post-mortem examination.
Mr Purcell, who was a former Eircom employee, had been living in the apartment for the past year.
He is the separated father of two grown-up children, who are now living in England.
Gardai said last night that he was very well known in the area and liked by all of his neighbours.
"He was very friendly and could be seen regularly talking to other residents and people working in nearby streets," one officer said.
"As a result, his absence became noticeable and a number of people became concerned as he lived alone in the apartment," he added.
Last night, detectives were trying to establish a motive for the savage attack.
Gardai were carrying out house-to-house inquiries in the area and were also examining CCTV footage taken from cameras nearby.
Traumatised friends gathered at the scene as they struggled to come to terms with his death.
Derek Wallace said: "I just can't believe it. He was one of the nicest people you could meet and he wouldn't hurt a fly.
"He lived alone in his bedsit and was just such a nice, quiet kind of person.
"He didn't have any enemies and it just doesn't make any sense," Mr Wallace added.
Another friend, Stephanie Naughton, was also visibly upset.
"I don't think there is anyone who would say a bad word about Martin and I couldn't think of anyone who would want to hurt him.
"He loved his music and we used to enjoy listening to each other's favourite tunes on the jukebox in the pub.
"He was such a lovely character and how he could die in such circumstances is so hard to believe," she said.
Supt Frank O'Brien, who is leading the murder inquiry, last night appealed for witnesses to come forward.
"This is a very busy thoroughfare and a lot of people have been coming up to gardai at the scene, offering their assistance.
"We appeal to anyone with information, especially those who knew the victim, to contact the gardai. They can phone Henry Street station at 061 212 400, or ring the confidential line, 1800 666 111."
Mr Purcell separated from his wife a number of years ago. The body of Martin Purcell is removed from his flat in Wickham Street, Limerick, yesterday. Emma Jervis/ Press 22