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I killed the devil, says man charged with body-in-barrel murder


Joe Heffernan has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Eoin Ryan

Joe Heffernan has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Eoin Ryan

The victim Eoin Ryan

The victim Eoin Ryan


Joe Heffernan has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Eoin Ryan

A MAN charged with the murder of a student told gardai he had killed the devil.

Joe Heffernan (31), of Cappabeg, Barefield, Co Clare, appeared before a special sitting of Ennis District Court yesterday evening.

He had earlier been charged with the murder of Eoin Ryan (21) at Cappabeg on Tuesday.

Garda Donagh Walshe gave evidence of arresting and charging him at Ennis garda station. In reply to the charge, the accused man had said: "I killed the devil."

Superintendent Peter Duff applied to have Mr Heffernan remanded in custody, to appear again at Ennis District Court tomorrow.

Defending solicitor John Casey told Judge Joseph Mangan that he was consenting to the application, but advised the court that his client was in need of medical attention and assistance.

A bed was ready and waiting for him at the Central Mental Hospital in Dublin, but Mr Casey said he was aware that the court could only remand him to Limerick Prison.

Mr Casey said that he was making the court aware of the situation on the advice of Dr John O'Mahony, who had met with Mr Heffernan.

He also applied for legal aid for his client as he believed that it was a case that warranted legal aid.

Judge Mangan acceded to the garda application and remanded the accused man in custody to Limerick Prison.

Mr Ryan's body was found by gardai responding to a phone call shortly after 6am on Tuesday.

The remains were located in a barrel in a field in Cappabeg.

Mr Ryan had completed his final year's studies in law and European studies at the University of Limerick. He was due to graduate in August.

He lived with his parents in Ennis. His father, Don, is a former president of the Teachers' Union of Ireland. He is also survived by a brother and sister.

But instead of preparing for a family celebration for Mr Ryan's graduation in just a few weeks, his family were yesterday planning his funeral.

A relative said that the family did not wish to make any comment on their tragic loss.


Parish priest for Ballyea, Fr Harry Brady, said that Don Ryan had told him no words could describe the hurt the family was going through.

Fr Brady said: "The Ryan family is absolutely shattered."

The priest described Mr Ryan as "a very lively intelligent, popular, bright boy".

Fr Brady said that neighbours and friends were at the Ryan home to sympathise with the family.

"Nobody was saying anything. Neighbours were at a loss as to what to say. His friends are in a terrible shock.

He added: "It is a terrible tragedy. There is nothing much you can say, but be with them and bear the pain with them."

Mr Ryan was described as a very popular member of the university community at Limerick.

Students Union president Ruan Dillon McLoughlin said: "Eoin was extremely well liked, full of life. He was an intelligent guy with great potential and a great career ahead of him.

"Everyone is shocked at what has happened and the entire student body would like to express our sincere sympathy to his family and friends."

The Students Union said that a range of support services, including counselling, were now available to students at the university.

Irish Independent