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Sunday 25 February 2018

Man remains in custody over shooting of Mayo farmer

Tom Brady and Gareth Naughton

A 33-year-old man is still being questioned this lunchtime in connection with the shooting dead of an elderly farmer yesterday afternoon.

The dead man has been named as Thomas Biggins (71), a married man who lived at Wallpark, Glencorrib, in a rural part of south Co Mayo, about 10km from Headford.

He was shot with his own gun at the family farm.

Investigating officers are satisfied he was killed by somebody who was well known to him and are not looking for anyone else in connection with the shooting.

Gardai were alerted shortly after lunchtime and dashed to the scene, where they found Mr Biggins in a critical condition.

He was taken by ambulance to the regional hospital in Galway and died there from gunshot wounds at about 4.30pm.

Detectives recovered a two-barrel shotgun and two spent cartridges from the home and they were taken away for ballistic tests.

The shotgun, which was legally held, was registered in the name of the victim.

One officer said last night that they were working on the theory that Mr Biggins was shot after a row erupted in the house at around lunchtime yesterday.

They said there was no sign of a break-in at the home and believe that the row was over a personal issue between Mr Biggins and a person he had known for decades.

Mr Biggins's land, where he farmed a large suckler herd, is situated in a picturesque area overlooking Lough Corrib.

Mr Biggins is survived by his wife Kathleen and three sons and one daughter. A second daughter, who was disabled, died a number of years ago.

"He was a decent neighbour. He couldn't do enough for people around here. He worked hard all his life," said a friend.

Gardai sealed off the scene at the farmhouse yesterday, awaiting the arrival of members of the technical bureau to carry out a detailed forensic examination.

After seizing the firearm, officers arrested the 33-year-man at the house and he was taken to Claremorris garda station for questioning.

The man was detained on suspicion of carrying out an assault on Mr Biggins, and was being questioned last night under section four of the Criminal Justice Act.

He can be held without charge for up to 24 hours.

Gardai also notified the office of the state pathologist and a post-mortem examination is expected to be carried out today.

Gardai in Claremorris appealed to anyone with information about the shooting to contact them.

The news of Mr Biggins's death reached the local pub, O'Malley's in Cross, shortly after his body was discovered.

"The gardai passed by with the sirens on and then we heard that the gentleman had been shot. They are quiet country people, a very quiet family. They would be well liked. Lovely, down-to-earth people," one local said.

Another local said: "Even though he was in his 70s, he was a lively man.

"The news has a lot of people left speechless.

"This has come completely out of the blue; nothing like that has ever happened before. It is quite shocking that something like this would happen."

Irish Independent

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