Wednesday 25 April 2018

'Life taken too early' - Tributes paid to victim Yosuke Sasaki (24) as gardai confirm 'no established link to terrorism'

  • An 18-year-old Egyptian man was arrested after the attacks
  • Gardai are trawling through two mobile phones recovered from suspect
  • Gardai say there is no established link to indicate that this tragedy is terrorist related
  • A 24-year-old Japanese man Yosuke Sasaki dead and two Irish men injured
Flowers at the scene on Avenue Road Dundalk. Photo: Kyran O'Brien Inset: Yosuke Sasaki
Flowers at the scene on Avenue Road Dundalk. Photo: Kyran O'Brien Inset: Yosuke Sasaki
Flowers at the scene on Avenue Road Dundalk. Photo: Kyran O'Brien
Yosuke Sasaki (24)
A Garda Crime Scene Investigator searches undergrowth for evidence on Coes Road, Dundalk. PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN
Gardai investigate the stabbing incident on the Avenue Road in Dundalk. Photo: Arthur Carron
A Garda Crime Scene Investigator searches undergrowth for evidence on Coes Road, Dundalk. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
Gardai investigate a stabbing incident on the Avenue Road in Dundalk which has left one man dead. Picture: Arthur Carron
Gardai investigate a stabbing incident on the Avenue Road in Dundalk which has left one man dead. Picture: Gerry Mooney

Conor Feehan, Ken Foy and Elaine Keogh

Tributes have been paid to a 24-year-old Japanese national who was stabbed to death in Dundalk yesterday.

An 18-year-old Egyptian man was arrested by gardai following three early morning attacks which left 24-year-old Yosuke Sasaki dead and two Irish men injured.

Yosuke.jpg
Yosuke Sasaki (24)

The suspect remained under questioning after a rest period overnight.

Today, gardai confirmed that there was no established link to indicate that this tragedy is terrorist related.

However, enquires are continuing internationally as the investigation develops.

"An Garda Síochána is currently liaising closely with our security and law enforcement partners worldwide to share and assess any relevant intelligence and its potential impact on the current investigation.

"At this time, we can find no established link to indicate that this tragedy is terrorist related. However, enquires are continuing internationally as the investigation develops.

"The threat level in this jurisdiction from international terrorism remains unchanged (MODERATE), where an attack is possible but not likely. The level of threat remains under constant review by An Garda Síochána in consultation with the Defence Forces."

At the scene of the stabbing of Yosuke Sasaki (24) on Avenue Road some bouquets of flowers have been left by friends, along with a small can of tinned coffee from Japan.

“Life taken too early, under such tragic circumstances,” said a message in one of the bouquets.

A spokesman for the Japanese Embassy said they had made contact with and were providing support to Mr Sasaki’s family. He requested that the media respect the privacy of the family at this difficult time.

The CEO of the National Pen company where Yosuke Sasaki worked has said he had only joined the firm last August but during his relatively short time with the contact centre he was a valued member of staff who made a positive impact.

“It is with deep regret and profound sadness that we confirm the death of our colleague in Wednesday’s incident in Dundalk,” said Peter Kelly from the company that specialises in personalised marketing merchandise.

“Senior Management and wider colleagues extend their sincere condolences to the family and friends of the deceased and have been liaising directly with the Japanese Embassy.

“This is a time of profound sadness for management and staff. We will do everything possible to assist the family at this tragic time,” he added.

Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan, paid tribute to the victims of the attack.

"I want to express my sympathy with those affected by yesterday’s attacks in Dundalk in which a young man from Japan, Yosuke Sasaki, was killed; our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time. I want to wish those who were injured a speedy recovery," he said in a statement.

"There has, understandably, been speculation and concern about the motivation for this attack. I welcome An Garda Síochána’s statement in this regard and would caution against drawing judgments until the Gardaí can establish the facts in the course of their investigation."

On the corner of Avenue Road and the Inner Link Road, gardai had sealed off a semi-derelict house where the suspect who was arrested is believed to have been squatting prior to the attacks.

It is not known how long he may have been living there, but it is believed he was sheltering in some shed buildings at the rear of the vacant house.

Neighbours said they did not see anyone coming or going from the house in recent days.

The company where Mr Sasaki worked, National Pen, said it would be issuing a statement this afternoon.

The family of the second man who was attacked, Cian Murphy, declined to comment on his current condition.

Today, gardai were trawling through two mobile phones recovered from a teenager as they probe whether a violent rampage is terror related.

The attack in Dundalk has sparked an international investigation as Garda national units liaise with colleagues in other countries to determine if the arrested man has links to international terror organisations.

Two mobile devices seized from the arrested man are being thoroughly examined to establish if any terror-related activity or material is contained on them.

A senior source last night said: “We need to know this man’s background. The mobile phones are key to the Garda investigation.”

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A Garda Crime Scene Investigator searches undergrowth for evidence on Coes Road, Dundalk. Photo: Colin O'Riordan

The attacks began shortly before 9am when the Japanese victim was discovered unresponsive with a knife in his back at Avenue Road. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

At 9.32am, Cian Murphy, who is in his early 20s, was attacked at Coes Road in Dundalk and stabbed in the back. He managed to make his way to his nearby workplace where colleagues called emergency services.

At 9.40am, a third victim was assaulted at Seatown Place, and was struck in the head with a fencing pole.

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The three pins show the areas preserved by gardai following a series of stabbings in Dundalk

Detectives believe that the attacker travelled on foot, and he was apprehended a short time later at a derelict property by unarmed gardaí.

The man was said to be in a very distressed state after his arrest, but was deemed fit to be interviewed after a number of hours.

Senior investigators have confirmed that a possible terror link is one line of inquiry gardaí are probing.

At a press conference, Chief Superintendent Christy Mangan, of the Louth Garda division, said: “A terror attack is a line of inquiry, it’s certainly a line that we would look at. We will endeavour to establish the suspect’s background, who they are, where they’ve come from and why are they here.

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Chief Supt Christy Mangan pictured at the press briefing in Dundalk Garda station. Picture; Gerry Mooney

“We’re very interested to know why was he in Dundalk, why would he come here, what’s the reason, what’s the connection,” the senior garda added.

Detectives believe that the 18-year-old arrested man entered Dundalk through Northern Ireland.

He was stopped and interacted with local officers on January 1 but did not have any identification on him. As a result, he presented at an asylum seekers centre in Dublin city centre.

However, the Egyptian man returned to Dundalk on Tuesday and stayed at a derelict property in the town that night ahead of yesterday morning’s attacks.

A number of Garda national units were also briefed after concerns were raised that the violent rampage matched profiles of Islamic extremists. The Garda Special Detective Unit (SDU) was briefed on the incident in the immediate aftermath, with the unit’s counter-terrorism section now in contact with colleagues in Egypt and the UK.

The force’s National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) was contacted by officers in Dundalk after it emerged that this unit had interacted with the suspect on Monday.

Last night, specialist Garda officers were trawling through the two mobile phones in an attempt to establish if the Dundalk attacks are in any way linked to Islamic terrorism.

One of the injured men, a 23-year-old from the locality, went for help at the nearby Smyth’s Life Pharmacy.

The shop owner Anne McEntegart said: “The wound was pumping, there was a lot of blood. It was totally random. He came in here afterwards asking for help. We treated the man. I had three to four staff on duty and the blood was pumping from his head. He came in and asked for help.”

Irish Independent

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