Thursday 22 February 2018

Man quizzed as young mum dies 'after falling down stairs'

Rita Apine
Rita Apine

Ryan Nugent and Ken Foy

Gardaí were last night quizzing a man over the violent death of a young mother found with serious head injuries in her home in Kilkenny.

One theory being explored by investigators is that the victim, named locally as 29-year-old Rita Apine, may have been pushed down the stairs.

Ms Apine is understood to have been living in Ireland for a number of years after moving here from an Eastern European country.

It is understood that she had a young child.

The man, who is in his 30s and known to the victim, was arrested yesterday afternoon and was last night detained at Kilkenny garda station under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984.

Gardaí were alerted to the incident by the ambulance service who had got an emergency call to attend the home.

Gardaí and forensic officers at the scene of the death of Rita Apine in Freshford, Co Kilkenny. Photo: Pat Moore
Gardaí and forensic officers at the scene of the death of Rita Apine in Freshford, Co Kilkenny. Photo: Pat Moore

The incident was initially believed to have been an accidental fall.

It is understood the emergency services administered CPR to Ms Apine at the scene and she was initially responsive.

However, she had been critically injured and died some time later at St Luke's Hospital in Kilkenny.

Investigators decided foul play had occurred after a review of Ms Apine's injuries and an account was given about what happened earlier in the Freshford property.

At around the same time as her death, a 30-year-old Eastern European national was arrested.

He was taken to Kilkenny garda station and questioned by gardaí on suspicion of her murder.

Ms Apine and her partner moved to the apartment in Bridge Street last year.

A woman who witnessed emergency services desperately trying to save her life said she initially thought the young mum had passed out.

The neighbour, who did not want to be named, said: "I was coming up the road at about 1pm and saw quite a crowd of medical staff trying to resuscitate her - there was one ambulance and two fire engines.

"She was being treated just outside her house at the doorstep. I thought it was a woman who may have passed out but now know that this wasn't the case.

"The guards then came on the scene and I understand there are CCTV cameras around the town, which may help.

"It's such a sad thing to have happened."

Meanwhile, local Fianna Fáil councillor Michael McCarthy said people in the area had been rocked by the tragedy.

"It's very, very sad. This is just a quiet, rural village and everybody here knows each other," he said.

Mr McCarthy said he knew the victim to see, but not by name, and would often see her or her partner in the area in the mornings.

"Bridge Street is a quiet area. There are a few apartments there and, like all apartments, people come and go," he said.

The man is being detained at Kilkenny garda station where he can be held for up to 24 hours for questioning.

A neighbour of Ms Apine, who did not want to be named, said: "The mother had a little girl and you would often see them walking around the town.

"I'm honestly so shocked and saddened by it all.

"To have something like this happen here is really very tragic."

The office of the State pathologist was notified and a post mortem examination will be carried out on the body.

On Monday morning gardaí renewed their appeal for information.

Gardai are particularly appealing to anybody who visited the local Costcutter shop, or who may have been in the Bridge Street area of Freshford village, between the hours of 8am and 1pm on Sunday May 14 and who may have heard or noticed anything out of the ordinary to get in touch.

A post-mortem will be carried out today on the young mum and a full technical examination of the scene will also be carried out.

Irish Independent

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