Man arrested in connection with death of 36-year-old found with critical head injuries
- Man (36) dies in hospital days after being found unconscious with critical head injuries
- Family fear deceased was victim of an assault
- Gardaí appeal for information
- Man arrested by investigating gardaí
GARDAÍ have arrested a man in connection with the death of a 36-year-old found lying unconscious on a street in a Waterford town with critical head injuries.
Richard 'Ritchie' O'Leary died at Cork University Hospital (CUH) last Friday after being found unconscious on a street in Dungarvan after he had gone out socialising on St Patrick's Day.
Mr O'Leary's family fear he was the victim of a brutal assault as he walked home alone.
He had been transferred to CUH from a Tipperary hospital with serious head injuries on March 18.
The young man had been in a medically induced coma at CUH since Sunday before losing his brave battle for life on Friday.
He was found badly injured in Dungarvan town centre in the early hours of March 18.
Mr O'Leary had suffered a fractured skull with resultant swelling of the brain.
Gardaí are now investigating whether Mr O'Leary, who would have turned 37 next month, may have been the victim of a serious assault.
A man was arrested by Dungarvan gardaí on Friday evening.
He was detained under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act and can be held for 24 hours.
Gardaí must now make a decision whether to charge the man or release him and prepare a file for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
Mr O'Leary had been out socialising in the west Waterford town with friends as part of the local St Patrick's Day festivities.
He was living over recent years in the Cushtrá area of Dungarvan in west Waterford.
He was described as a keen sports fan and was well-known in the town and its environs.
The young man was particularly noted for his devotion to GAA, Irish rugby, Irish soccer and Liverpool FC.
He worked in the construction sector.
His sister, Tina, said her family were overwhelmed with messages of support following the news of Richard's injury.
"He went out on St Patrick's Day to watch the rugby and Liverpool play football. He was going to a nightclub on Saturday night but then decided not to go in," she told WLRFM
"He was (later) found between 1am and 1.30am (in Dungarvan town centre) and two people performed CPR on him before the ambulance came.
"We were told he was taken to Clonmel Hospital....he had a fractured skull, bleeding on the brain and swelling to the brain.
"He had to be transferred to Cork hospital because of the damage to his brain.
"We don't know who done it. But we would appeal to anyone who has information to come forward and help the gardaí."
Tina said her brother was devoted to his family.
"I recently had a baby and he came to see my daughter, his niece, that is why he was around. He was in England for a little while - but he lives in Dungarvan and I live in Waterford city."
Tina said it was very upsetting seeing her brother lying in a intensive care unit bed connected to life support equipment.
"When we were eventually allowed in he was in a coma, lying on the bed with wires and things coming out of him - he had swelling and bruising to his face and a black eye as well."
Gardaí are now attempting to trace Mr O'Leary's last known movements in the town late last Saturday night and early Sunday morning before he was found lying unconscious on a footpath at TF Meagher Street around 1am last Sunday.
CCTV security camera footage is also being studied in a bid to see if Mr O'Leary was caught on camera and who he may have been with at the time.
Anyone who may have spotted Mr O'Leary last Saturday night/Sunday morning or who may have information about precisely how he sustained the critical head injuries are asked to contact Dungarvan Gardaí on (058) 486 00.
Mr O'Leary will be buried after 11am Requiem Mass at St Mary's Church in Dungarvan on Tuesday.
He is survived by his mother, Catherine, brother David, sisters Sandra, Wendy and Tina as well as aunts, uncles and cousins.