Man faces assault charge after death of ex-soldier
A MAN is expected to appear in court today charged with assault following the death of a former soldier after an altercation on New Year's Eve.
Noel Keegan (59) was on his way to his local pub in Longford town with his wife when they allegedly became involved in a dispute with a man and a woman in their 20s.
Mr Keegan was assaulted in the Park Road-Teffia Park area of the town after 9pm and it understood he collapsed afterwards.
The former member of the Defence Forces, who is believed to have suffered several blows, was treated at the scene and was then rushed to the Midlands Regional Hospital in Mullingar. However, his condition deteriorated and he died a short time later. Mr Keegan had undergone minor heart surgery a number of weeks earlier.
Two locals, a man (23) and a woman (21), were arrested at the scene and questioned by gardai. The woman was released late last night and a file is being sent to the DPP.
The man was kept in for questioning overnight. He is expected to appear before a special sitting of the court in Longford at midday on a charge of assault causing harm.
Gardai have appealed for anyone who was in the area and who may have witnessed the incident to contact them.
Superintendent Joe McLoughlin said there was some "shouting and noise" in the area. He asked anyone with information to come forward.
Longford Town Mayor Brendan Gilmore said people in the area were shocked by the death of the father of three. "He was a very nice man, he just kept to himself," the councillor said.
"He had reared a lovely family. I'm very sorry for his wife."
It is understood Mr Keegan's wife was not hurt. It is also understood Mr Keegan served all of his 20 years at the now closed Connolly Barracks in Co Longford, apart from tours of duty overseas. He was a corporal in the 4th Motor Squadron before he retired about seven years ago.
Fianna Fail Councillor Michael Connellan said the entire town was shocked to wake up on New Year's Day to such devastating news. "That area is a very nice area to live in and the whole community is shocked by what happened," he said. Mr Keegan lived in Farnagh, about a kilometre from the town centre. He had worked in recent years as a security guard at the Flancare warehouse in the business park on the Athlone Road in Longford.
Results of a post mortem carried out on Mr Keegan's body have not yet been released.