Killer was drinking in town before brothers murdered
GARDAI believe the killer of the tragic Blaine brothers had been drinking in the town in the hours before the savage double murder.
Officers are now satisfied that the elderly victims did not know the thug, who forced his way into their modest home in Castlebar and then beat them to death.
Gardai have also interviewed a number of women, who reported that they had encountered a man acting strangely in the town on Tuesday night.
The bodies of Jack (76) and Tom (69) Blaine were discovered on Wednesday morning by their distraught care worker.
Last night, members of the garda investigation team were continuing to study CCTV footage while also completing a detailed forensic examination of the murder scene.
Local publican Michael 'Rocky' Moran confirmed that he was called to the house by home help Helen Maloney when she found Jack's body in the downstairs bedroom of their house.
Tom was found in the backyard of the building.
Both men were said by gardai to have "obvious visible injuries" after the vicious beating they suffered. It is believed they both died from blunt force trauma.
Mr Moran said that on Wednesday morning, Jack's birthday, Ms Maloney had brought the pair some new clothes.
He said: "She used to look after them – she was their carer."
Mr Moran's pub Rocky's is less than 20 metres from the Blaine brothers' house. Staff said Jack frequently visited the bar with his own mug, tapping on the window for coffee refills for which he was never charged.
Mr Moran confirmed that he went over to the brothers' house with Ms Maloney that morning but said: "I don't really want to talk about it to be honest."
The Mayor of Castlebar, Cllr Noreen Heston, a sister of the Blaine brother's carer Ms Maloney, laid a wreath at the crime scene last night.
The monthly meeting of the town council was adjourned and a book of condolences opened as a mark of respect.
A brief prayer was said in council chambers before Cllr Heston walked to their home with other local representatives to place the wreath.
She told the Irish Independent: "I just want to express my deepest sympathy to the family. I personally knew both brothers.
"The town is in shock at the loss of our two friends.
"They were our friends. It's a tragic loss. They were inoffensive, beautiful people and never harmed anyone," she added.
She said the council had decided to adjourn the meeting, not just out of respect but because " they were loved".
Cllr Heston appealed for privacy for her sister who is being comforted by family members.
The politicians were among a steady stream of mourners to pay their respects to the murdered brothers at their home on New Antrim Street.
Little Sarah Murrihy (7) blessed herself and said a prayer whilst her nine-year-old sister Mary Kate laid flowers outside the Castlebar home where the Blaines died.
"The girls have been very upset," said their mother Anne.
"We would always see Jack in the town. He was part of the streetscape of Castlebar. They were two beautiful men and this town is all the worse for their passing."
The Blaine brothers' cousin, Paul Dunne, said that he had been inundated with messages of sympathy from all over Ireland.
"Complete strangers have phoned me," he said, "It's good to know that people care about these two lovely men. Castlebar will never be the same again now." Both men had suffered horrific injuries in the attack.
A 26-year-old man was still being questioned by detectives about the brutal killings last night.
The suspect is a native of Ballina and had been living between Castlebar and Dublin in recent times.