Murder probe as young GAA player 'beaten' and found dead in garden
UK tourist (21) with passion for sport found dead in the early hours
Gardaí are investigating whether a young GAA player killed on holiday in Co Mayo was severely beaten before he was found in the garden of a house.
Joseph 'Joe' Deacy (21) was killed in a suspected assault in the early hours of Saturday morning, in the Swinford area.
The young man, from St Albans north of London in England, was a regular visitor to Ireland and had a circle of friends in the West.
Sources say Mr Deacy suffered a "beating" and was later found by a passer-by in the garden of a friend's house he had been staying in at Gortnasillagh, about 6am on August 12.
The injured man was rushed by ambulance to Mayo General Hospital before being transferred to Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, with serious head injuries, but passed away on Sunday evening.
Gardaí launched the murder inquiry after a post mortem examination by State Pathologist Marie Cassidy.
He was socialising on Saturday night in the hours before the incident. Gardaí are trawling CCTV and asking taxi drivers or other witnesses to help determine what happened to Mr Deacy before he was found with severe injuries.
Superintendent Tony Healy, from Claremorris garda station, told the Irish Independent that the young man had been a regular visitor to Mayo and had been socialising in Kiltimagh town earlier that night.
"He was over to Ireland for two weeks, he was a frequent visitor to Ireland and was due to return to the UK this week," Supt Healy said. "He was on holiday, he had some friends here in Ireland.
"He would be over and back here quite regularly and had a circle of friends he'd visit," he added.
It is understood the most substantial injuries sustained by Mr Deacy were to the head, though he did sustain further injuries.
"He was found in the driveway of the house he had been staying in with his friends," Supt Healy said. "He had been socialising in Kiltimagh town and would have returned to the house he was staying at in Gortnasillagh, Swinford.
"We're asking the public for any help in relation to any witnesses to any assault or altercation or in any pub, or the publicans or any taxi drivers or anybody with any dash cams that might have recorded any incidents in the area in Kiltimagh or in Gortnasillagh on the Saturday.
"He was found by a passer-by in the morning who raised the alarm. He was in an unconscious state at that time. He had an injury to his head, which we are currently investigating."
A forensic examination of the scene where the young man was found has been carried out and an incident room has been established at Claremorris garda station.
The scene where Mr Deacy was found dead was investigated by garda forensic teams, and is now back open.
A family liaison officer has been appointed to the case, and his parents have arrived in Ireland following his passing at the weekend.
Meanwhile, it is understood that Hertfordshire police in the UK are also standing by in order to assist gardaí and have also been in contact with Mr Deacy's family.
Mr Deacy was an avid Mayo supporter, who would regularly travel to the county's Gaelic football matches. He was also a talented footballer with his local club in St Albans, St Colmcille's.
Club members are understood to be devastated by his passing, and released a statement remembering their teammate and friend.
"It is difficult to say goodbye to anyone at any age but, when it happens to someone so young, it is especially difficult," the statement read.
"He will be sorely missed by us all. Our thoughts and prayers are with Joe's family and friends at this time," it added.
He was also a devoted West Ham United fan, with some fellow fans also paying tribute to their friend online.