GARDAI hunting the killer of former publican John Maguire are seeking a man who had called to his home around two hours before the victim was found behind his front door with multiple stab wounds.
Gardai have a description of the man but, despite an extensive search, have been unable to locate him. A senior officer said last night: "We want to find this man, if only to eliminate him from our inquiries.
"But because of the timing of his call to the house, he could have crucial information that will assist us in building up a picture of what took place in the hours leading up to the attack".
Officers have also been interviewing neighbours of Mr Maguire at their homes in Ormond Square in Dublin's north inner city to find out if they had noticed anybody near his house during the morning or early afternoon.
Mr Maguire, who has an extensive property portfolio, particularly in his native Terenure, is the partner of Jim Hynes, the deputy chief executive and chief operations officer of the charity Concern.
His body was found after a neighbour spotted that the front door was slightly ajar – and when she looked inside she saw Mr Maguire lying on the ground and bleeding heavily from the upper body.
A male friend alerted the emergency services and personnel tried in vain to save the 51-year-old man but he was pronounced dead at the scene shortly afterwards.
Officers have also been trawling through footage taken from CCTV cameras in the Smithfield area and along Ormond Quay as part of their inquiries.
Gardai have been unable to carry out an extensive search of the house yet because the area is still being forensically examined by members of the technical bureau.
Officers have recovered a knife, which they say could have been the murder weapon, but acknowledged that it had yet to be forensically checked to determine whether it had been wiped clean.
Gardai have also been looking into Mr Maguire's background to identify business associates or other acquaintances who might have reason to call to his house.
Officers said that until they had the go-ahead to check the house, they would not be able to say whether anything was missing from the property.
But there was no initial evidence of a break-in there.
A post-mortem examination on the body by State pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy yesterday confirmed that Mr Maguire had died after being stabbed several times in the upper body.
Meanwhile, Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan said that society should take responsibility for the use of knives.
"It would be an impossible situation to ban knives and sharp objects, so its a question of people being reasonable in how they conduct their business," he said.
He pointed out that the new crime figures had shown that assaults were down and said the gardai would work hard with the community to "inculcate a sense of responsibility among the community".
He appealed for help in bringing those responsible for recent knife crimes to justice and said he was confident there would be a successful conclusion to the Ormond Square investigation.
By Tom Brady Security Editor