'I don't know how to tell our daughter her daddy is dead' says fiancée of attack victim
Published 01/10/2015 | 02:30
The fiancée of the man killed in an attack in a house in Co Kildare has said she doesn't know how to tell their three-year-old daughter that he is dead.
Noel Winterlich (37) suffered head injuries in an apparent attack in a house on Willowbrook Park in Celbridge, Co Kildare, sometime between Monday and Tuesday night.
Gardaí have arrested a man in his 20s who also lives in the town.
It was the second tragedy for Noel's fiancée Dearbhla Leahy, who also lost her brother more than a decade ago.
Apart from trying to break the news to her little girl Amber, Dearbhla said his killing also brought back terrible memories of getting the news 12 years ago that her brother Finbar had been murdered in Thailand.
From her home in Hazelhatch, Dearbhla broke down in tears as Amber played in the kitchen at her feet, oblivious to the tragedy that has hit them.
"I only heard the details on the news. The gardaí only told me Noel had passed away, but I didn't know how until I saw the news," she told the Irish Independent.
"He was a great dad and partner, and loved Amber, and she in turn was mad about him.
"It still hasn't sunk in yet. I tried to tell Amber earlier that her daddy was gone to heaven.
"But she doesn't understand at all, so for the moment I've told her that daddy has had to go to work far away for a long time," Dearbhla explained.
On her own 33rd birthday, Dearbhla told how Noel had suffered from alcohol addiction and that he attended clinics to help himself.
"Although he did have difficulties, he fought those issues. Amber was his life and he adored her," she said.
"When he wasn't drinking he was the softest man, but drink could change his temperament."
During his life Noel had brushes with the law and the courts, amassing a number of convictions.
However, Dearbhla said he was always trying to overcome his problems.
In November 2002, Dearbhla and her family received the awful news that her brother Finbar had been killed while backpacking in Thailand.
Local police there said the 24-year-old had his throat cut in a row over a Thai woman.
But this was disputed by a friend of Finbar's - who had been staying next door and who said the row was over money.
A post mortem was carried out on Noel's body yesterday afternoon to determine the cause and time of his death.
Gardaí have appealed for witnesses or anyone who was in the area at the time to contact them at Leixlip Garda Station on 01 666 7800.