GARDAI had to rush a man dying from stab wounds to hospital in a squad car after emergency services took almost half an hour to arrive on the scene.
Wayne McQuillan (30) from Rathmullen Park, Drogheda, Co Louth, died after being stabbed in the neck and chest following a New Year's Day row with a woman at his home.
A woman aged 40 was arrested at the scene and last night remained in custody at Drogheda garda station.
It is understood a seven-year-old boy was asleep upstairs at the time of the incident.
Following the results of a post-mortem examination last night, gardai announced that the investigation into Mr McQuillan's death was a murder inquiry.
Neighbours of Mr McQuillan said they pleaded with gardai to bring him to the hospital after the ambulance took almost 30 minutes to arrive.
The HSE confirmed it took 25 minutes before an ambulance got to the scene.
And a garda source said the decision was made to take him in a patrol car to hospital "because there was a fear that he was slipping away".
He was subsequently brought to Our Lady Of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda in a patrol car where he died from his injuries.
Mr McQuillan is survived by his father Jimmy, mother Bernie and sister Audrey. The family are said to be "devastated".
Audrey described him as "a good brother and son".
"He will be sadly missed and my family want privacy at this time. His parents ask that this request be honoured," she said.
Mr McQuillan was initially discovered by a young woman at around 1.40am while she was walking across the estate.
He was lying alone on a grass verge in front of his house. He had his boxer shorts on and his pants were around his ankles.
The front door to his house was open and the hallway was covered in blood. The young woman fled to a nearby house to raise the alarm.
A HSE spokesperson said the NAS Ambulance Control received a 999 call at 1.46am. At 1.50am, the nearest available ambulance was dispatched.
However, the ambulance did not reach the scene until 2.11am -- 25 minutes after the 999 call was placed.
By that time, Mr McQuillan had already been brought to hospital by gardai and the ambulance was stood down.
This response time is well outside the 18 minutes and 59 seconds target set down in the HSE service plan.
Neighbours of Mr McQuillan described him as a "big, jolly chap". "You'd always have a great banter with him. A lovely chap. From a lovely family," a neighbour said.
A detailed forensic investigation was conducted throughout the day at the house.
Gardai are appealing for anyone with information to contact Drogheda garda station on 041 9874200, the Garda Confidential Line 1800 666 111 or any garda station.
By Fiona Ellis and Elaine Keogh