Monday 11 November 2019

Homeless chef who was beaten to death knew his attacker, gardaí believe

Forensic officers beside Mr Hourihane’s tent at the scene of the fire and murder. Photo: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
Forensic officers beside Mr Hourihane’s tent at the scene of the fire and murder. Photo: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

Ralph Riegel

Gardaí believe the homeless chef beaten to death in a savage assault in Co Cork may have known his attacker.

The revelation came as it emerged Timothy 'Timmy' Hourihane (53) had previously spoken of his fear of violent assault when describing life for the homeless in Ireland.

Two years ago, Mr Hourihane said he had to be hospitalised after one brutal attack while he was sleeping rough - and revealed he had been repeatedly robbed while living on the streets.

The Bantry-born chef was found in a critical condition at Mardyke Walk around 1am on Sunday when gardaí and Cork Fire Brigade were called to the scene.

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A number of homeless people live in makeshift accommodation in the area, which has been dubbed 'Tent City'.

One tent was spotted on fire and the fire brigade were alerted. When they extinguished the blaze, they spotted Mr Hourihane lying unconscious a short distance away.

Tragedy: Timothy Hourihane, who ended up on the streets after a battle with alcohol addiction, had told of previous attacks he had suffered
Tragedy: Timothy Hourihane, who ended up on the streets after a battle with alcohol addiction, had told of previous attacks he had suffered

He had suffered a brutal beating, including having his head kicked and stamped on.

Mr Hourihane was rushed to Cork University Hospital, but was pronounced dead shortly after admission.

His death - which represented the second violent assault on a homeless person in Cork in recent weeks - sparked warnings from social justice campaigners that not enough is being done to help the vulnerable in Ireland.

Sympathies over Mr Hourihane's violent death were also expressed by the Lord Mayor of Cork John Sheehan, and the Bishop of Cork & Ross Dr Fintan Gavin.

Garda Superintendent Michael Comyns confirmed a murder inquiry is under way and appealed for public help.

CCTV security camera footage is set to play a key role in the investigation.

Gardaí said it was also possible that Mr Hourihane may have known his attacker or attackers.

Two years ago, the chef - who was a kind-hearted and well-known figure on the Cork streets - told of the threats homeless people faced.

"Wandering around, basically around the whole city, trying to find where can I sleep tonight, is it going to be safe?" he said. "In Cork, in most places in Cork, it's not safe in the city centre.

"I've been attacked three times and ended up in hospital because of those attacks.

"One person stamped on my hands and I ended up with fractures on my hand plus fractures down my right side. The actual rib went into my lung.

"I didn't have a cent in my pocket and they probably thought I had something on me.

"I feel cold and not safe. It is really, really cold. We might have a duvet or a few blankets. You wake up at 4am and you are hypothermic and shaking with the cold."

Mr Hourihane had worked as a chef in some of the top UK hotels and restaurants, even helping cater for stars such as Elton John and Lionel Ritchie.

However, his life gradually unravelled because of alcohol addiction. 

"When you're back on the street, and you can't go anywhere again, that monkey on my shoulder said 'go back to alcohol again'," he said.

"Unfortunately, that is what happened."

He said that many homeless people were treated like "a zero" in society because they were living on the streets.

Irish Independent

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