GARDAI are hunting the killers of a young man who had his throat cut before his apartment was deliberately set on fire.
Michael 'Mikey' O'Shea (32) was found with serious throat and neck injuries after gardai and fire brigade officials gained entry to his east Cork flat after extinguishing a blaze early yesterday morning.
His heartbroken mother, Catherine, was comforted by family and friends as she watched her son's body being removed from the house at North Main Street in Youghal, Co Cork, for transfer to Cork University Hospital (CUH) for a post-mortem examination.
"We're devastated -- our hearts are totally broken," the distraught woman told the Irish Independent.
"He was always smiling and we cannot believe he is gone. We just cannot believe this. It's a total nightmare," she added.
Mr O'Shea -- who had three sisters including a twin -- was discovered dead in a flat complex in Youghal town centre shortly before 5am yesterday.
Gardai and Youghal fire brigade officials were alerted to the blaze shortly after 2.30am and, once the fire had been brought under control, conducted a detailed examination of the flat's interior.
Mr O'Shea's body was discovered lying amid the scorched debris in his ground floor flat -- and he had clearly visible injuries to his throat and neck.
It is understood that his body was discovered partially covered by the frame of a bed.
One garda source said there was no sign of a weapon such as a knife or razor at the scene.
Mr O'Shea had been resident in the flat complex over recent months, but hadn't been seen since late on Wednesday evening.
The young man is understood to have lived rough for a time several years ago.
Gardai immediately sealed off the area pending an examination by the State Pathologist's Office and by members of the Garda Technical Bureau.
A full post-mortem examination was conducted last night by the assistant state pathologist, Dr Margaret Bolster. Gardai launched a full murder probe once a preliminary examination of Mr O'Shea's body had been completed.
Superintendent Flor Horan last night appealed for the public's help in tracking down those responsible for the young man's death.
"He (Mikey) would be very well-known to all the people here in Youghal," he said.
"We believe he was seen here outside the apartment near Xtra-vision in Youghal last night.
"The apartment is adjoining Xtra-vision and I would appeal to anyone who saw him from 10pm on Wednesday until 2.30am today (Thursday) to contact us at Youghal garda station at 024-92200," Supt Horan added.
Forensic experts were last night examining the premises to determine the precise cause of the fire -- and who else may have been in the man's apartment in the hours before his death.
Youghal gardai last night appealed to anyone who may have spotted suspicious activity on North Main Street on either Wednesday or yesterday to contact them.
Gardai are also trying to trace all vehicles parked on North Main Street during that time period.
Detectives were last night speaking with Mr O'Shea's friends and known acquaintances to determine his last movements.
CCTV security camera footage from premises around the area was being studied to determine the movements of both vehicles and pedestrians.
Locals expressed shock at Mr O'Shea's death .
"Mikey was a lovely fella -- he was always ready to stop for a chat and a laugh. This is a desperate tragedy for the entire O'Shea family who are very well known in the town," one neighbour said.