Tuesday 16 January 2018

Brutal end for 7ft gentle giant who found himself on the fringes of society

Dmitry Hrynkevich, who was found with serious head injuries at a house at Killeen Woods in Tralee last week
Dmitry Hrynkevich, who was found with serious head injuries at a house at Killeen Woods in Tralee last week
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

It was a brutal end to the dream of a better life which brought the family of Dmitry Hrynkevich to Ireland.

Dmitry (24), who stood 7’6” tall, was a gentle and soft-spoken giant who hated the fact that his height made him the centre of attention.

But he was apparently picked on because of his gigantic frame and Russian ancestry.

Dmitry was savagely attacked in the Killeen Wood estate in Tralee last Wednesday evening. The attack ended only when the young man had sustained horrific head injuries.

He was then abandoned, unconscious and helpless, on the front lawn of the house where he was discovered by gardaí at 10.30pm on September 30.

Dmitry never regained consciousness and died two days later in Kerry General Hospital.

The house at Killeen Woods in Tralee where Dmitry Hrynkevich was found with serious head injuries
The house at Killeen Woods in Tralee where Dmitry Hrynkevich was found with serious head injuries

His heartbroken family were by his bedside.

Ireland’s third-tallest man died just months before he was due to celebrate his 25th birthday.

His hard-working parents had emigrated from Russia and settled in Killarney. Dmitry attended both primary and secondary schools in the Kerry town. But his gigantism was apparent well before his teens.

The condition is triggered by an over-production of human growth hormones.

Such hormones are vital in transforming children into young adults – but even the slightest over-production of them can result in limbs stretching to huge proportions.

In some cases, gigantism is caused by a tumour on the pituitary gland which causes over-production of those key hormones.

The condition is believed to have been responsible for the height of the tallest man who ever lived, Robert Wadlow, who grew to an astonishing 8’11” (2.72m) in the US in the 1930s.

Sufferers have to deal with health problems such as strained joints and spines.

However, the major consequences of the condition are usually social and psychological, with many so-called giants growing to hate their height.

In Dmitry’s case, by the time he was in his early teens he was already over six feet tall and towering over his classmates.

By the time he was 21, Dmitry had grown to 7’6” in height, or 2.32 metres.

Incessantly bullied over his height, the shy young Russian at first tried to ignore those who picked on him.

But when the bullying couldn’t be ignored, he fought back – while also staying away from the groups he found threatening.

A young man who loved music and sport suddenly found himself on the fringes of society.

Not long after he left school, Dmitry began to make appearances at district courts in Kerry related to a host of petty issues.

Even in court, his height would attract comment.

“For such a tall man, he was very quiet. When he spoke, you almost had to strain to hear what he was saying,” one acquaintance said.

“You always got the impression that Dmitry was very, very shy. A lot of the time, he would only speak if he was spoken to. But when he spoke to you, he always tried to be polite and make eye contact.”

The young man became well known in Killarney and Tralee – often simply walking down the road, he would bring traffic to a halt.

Dmitry also spent some time in Cork, but he was very close to his Killarney-based family, and Kerry was always his home.

Residents in Aghadoe and Bishop’s Court expressed their shock at the tragic death.

“The awful thing is that you could guess something like this was going to happen. It was terrible the way he was treated by some people and most of the problems he had in life were because of how he tried to cope with that,” one Kerry neighbour said.

“We’re all heartbroken because he really was so gentle. I know a few of the newspapers called him ‘a gentle giant’ and that really is what Dmitry was.”

The young man was also proud of his Russian ancestry, and that is now being examined by gardaí as a possible motive for why he was attacked.

Supt Jim O’Connor described the attack as “very serious” given the horrific injuries sustained by the victim.

For operational reasons, gardaí have declined to release the results of the post mortem but it is understood Dmitry suffered savage head injuries.

Dmitry attended the Killeen Wood property together with a number of other people on Wednesday evening for a party.

Shortly before 10pm, something triggered an incident inside the property and detectives believe Dmitry was subjected to a savage assault..

Investigating gardaí are now appealing for witnesses, or anyone who could provide background information, to come forward.

Detectives believe a number of people were in the property that night and appealed to them to contact Tralee gardaí, even if they had left before the fatal incident.

Two men, in their late 20s and early 30s, were initially arrested by gardaí and questioned at Tralee Garda Station.

Both were later released without charge.

They are both east European nationals but are not Russian.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Tralee Garda Station.

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