Tuesday 20 March 2018

'Amazing man who was so full of life' - Tributes paid to Irish dad stabbed on first date in Sydney

Irishman stabbed to death on first date by jealous ex-husband

Tributes paid to 'amazing man' Keith Collins (inset). Main picture: The scene of the attack in Sydney
Tributes paid to 'amazing man' Keith Collins (inset). Main picture: The scene of the attack in Sydney
A police officer arresting the suspect at the murder scene in Sydney, Australia
Jovi Pilapil
Keith Collins

Martin Grant

An Irishman has been stabbed and killed while on what is believed to have been a first date at a restaurant in Sydney, Australia.

Keith Collins (53) was stabbed in the neck and chest while his date Jovi Pilapil was also injured. Her ex-husband is the chief suspect.

Mr Collins was originally from Finglas in Dublin but had been living in Terrigal on the Central Coast. He died at the scene at Kangam BBQ restaurant in Westfield Hornsby.

The father of one was the managing director of a successful Gosford packing company and had just returned from a business trip to China.

He was also president of the Terrigal Wamberal Sharks Junior Rugby League Club.

Mr Collins's daughter Aisling wrote on Facebook: "I love you more than anything, Dad, I'll forever be your girl, no matter what."

A police officer arresting the suspect at the murder scene in Sydney, Australia
A police officer arresting the suspect at the murder scene in Sydney, Australia

Mr Collins's sister, Audrey Jenkins, who also lives in Australia, told the Irish Independent last night the devoted father was born in Finglas but has lived in Australia since emigrating in 1968.

Ms Jenkins added they have "lots of family in Ireland" who are devastated by the news and that their mum also lives in Sydney. She paid tribute to her brother on social media, writing: "Love you big bro. Please, please be at peace now. Xxxx"

Keith Collins
Keith Collins

Sue McInnes, a friend and former Terrigal Sharks member with Mr Collins, said: "He was an amazing man who was so full of life and meant what he said. He had many of the boys from the club working for him and treated them like family, and he was generous. He said he only made money because they worked well for him.

"He was a great community person too... he loved the kids and loved life... It's a very, very big loss."

Jovi Pilapil
Jovi Pilapil

Ms Pilapil, who was also stabbed in the incident, was able to run away and hide in an upstairs shop, where she collapsed.

It is believed that the pair had arranged the meal after meeting on a dating website.

A witness said the devoted father desperately called out for help after he was attacked.

"He was yelling out 'help' and me and my mates were outside, we were freaking out and were like, 'Nah, we've got to help him'," a man said.

"He was laying there and I was like, 'Mate, calm down you will be all good, just keep calm,'" he added.

Australian media reported that the pair were stabbed by a man believed to be Ms Pilapil's ex-husband, Alexander Villaluna.

Witnesses said the alleged attacker calmly walked up and down the shopping centre's concourse, covered in blood and with the 20-centimetre knife in his hand.

After about 15 minutes, a female police officer with her Taser drawn apprehended Mr Villaluna, who had walked back inside the Korean BBQ restaurant and surrendered without incident.

A witness said the alleged attacker appeared "eerily calm" as he paced up and down.

"It's almost like it was an out-of-body experience for him," he said. "He probably sat down wondering what to do. He was eerily calm, as though it didn't really matter."

Mr Villaluna (44) was taken to Hornsby Police Station where he was charged with murder and attempted murder. He was refused bail and chose not to appear when his case was heard before Hornsby Local Court. He will face court again in May.

Detective Acting Superintendent Damian Henry told reporters the relationship between the three people would form part of the police inquiry.

"We're yet to establish if there's a domestic relationship between the three parties," he said. "We believe that there might be a domestic relationship between the female and the (charged man)."

Supt Henry said the 38-year-old woman was taken to Royal North Shore Hospital with a punctured sternum and was expected to have surgery. Her brother Ralph said he had spoken with his sister's children since the attack.

"They told me she was stabbed and she broke something and she was very lucky it did not hit her lungs and heart. We were very grateful. We were here in the church thanking that she wasn't badly injured," he said.

Witness Lucas Decia described how the attacker walked into the restaurant and pulled out a blade. "He drove the blade into the guy's collarbone and pushed it across. Pulled it out and then (stabbed) him in the side of the ribs. The lady went to get up and he took a stab at her. He kept slashing."

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News