POLICE in Malaysia are to interview the owner of a farm on which an Irishman was mauled to death by mongrel dogs in an attempt to clarify how the horrific tragedy took place.
Waterford city native Maurice Sullivan (50) was killed almost instantly as a result of the savage attack by the two dogs on the Malaysian island of Penang. He had more than 50 bite wounds and lacerations on his body.
Yesterday, the dogs were being examined at a government veterinary clinic and will be monitored for up to 10 days while the police investigation is being carried out.
Penang South-West District police chief, Supt Hatta Md Zin said the dogs' owner, Joseph Teoh; and Mr Sullivan's Polish girlfriend, Agnieszka Jablonska (28), would be called in to give statements to help in the investigation into his death.
Friends and neighbours yesterday described him as "very popular and likeable".
Mr Sullivan had travelled to Malaysia last August to do volunteer environmental work and was accompanied by Ms Jablonska on the visit to the organic farm, but she escaped injury.
Mr Sullivan was taking photographs in an orchard at the farm and Ms Jablonska had moved to another area, when the ferocious attack happened.
The head of forensics at Penang Hospital, Dr Bhupinder Singh, who carried out a post-mortem examination yesterday said he found wounds to the victim's head, neck, hands and legs.
"The victim died as a result of severe haemorrhage, due to multiple injuries from the dogs' bites.
A representative of the Irish embassy in Kuala Lumpur, which is extending consular assistance to the Sullivan family, attended the hospital mortuary yesterday, accompanied by Ms Jablonska.
"He knew his time would come. Maurice is at peace," Ms Jablonska was quoted as telling local reporters.
The case is being investigated under Section 28 of the Penal Code for negligence causing probable danger or grievous hurt from an animal. If convicted, a person can face imprisonment of up to six months or a fine, or both.
Penang Animal Sanctuary Society veterinary adviser, Dr Roland Lim called on the authorities to investigate thoroughly why the animals attacked Mr Sullivan. "Dogs normally do not attack unless provoked," he said. "They must investigate why the dogs attacked before putting them down."
While he had been working and living in Co Galway in recent years, Mr Sullivan had grown up in the Marymount, Ferrybank area of Waterford city.
He is survived by five sisters and one brother. His father David, who died some years ago, worked in the ESB, while his mother Nora is now in her 80s and is resident at a south Kilkenny nursing home.
Waterford City councillor Davy Walsh, who lives just a few doors away from the original Sullivan family home, said yesterday that the entire community was very shocked at his death.
"I knew him very well. He was always a very popular young fella and he was very artistic. The whole family were very grounded and they must all be devastated. It was such an awful death," Mr Walsh said.
His family was yesterday attempting to make arrangements to have his remains flown back to Ireland for burial.