Friday 23 August 2019

Gardai arrest fifth person as part of Mikolaj Wilk murder investigation

Frenzied attack: Mikolaj Wilk pictured with his wife Elzbieta
Frenzied attack: Mikolaj Wilk pictured with his wife Elzbieta

Ralph Riegel

GARDAÍ have arrested a fifth person in relation to the horrific killing of a Polish gardener who was hacked to death in front of his family in his Cork home.

Mikolaj Wilk (35) was attacked last June by a masked gang in his home with machetes - and he died after suffering horrific cut and slash-type injuries.

Cork Gardaí last night arrested a man in his 30s over the Wilk murder investigation - their second arrest in the space of 24 hours.

The man was arrested in the Cork area and was taken to Gurranabraher Garda Station where he is currently detained under the provisions of Section 50 of the Criminal Justice Act, 2007.

A girl lays flowers at the house near Ballincollig where Mikolaj Wilk was killed. Photo: Frank McGrath
A girl lays flowers at the house near Ballincollig where Mikolaj Wilk was killed. Photo: Frank McGrath

He can be held for an initial period of 24 hours.

The man is the fifth person arrested in relation to this investigation. Another man in his 30s was arrested in Cork yesterday and continues to be questioned at Togher Garda Station.

Three other men - two Poles and a Latvian national - were arrested last January but later released without charge.

Last week Cork Coroner Philip Comyn agreed to adjourn the inquest into the death of Mikolaj Wilk.

Gardaí sought the application as they continue to hunt for the killers of the father of two.

Mr Wilk was hacked to death at his Bridge House, Maglin home outside Ballincollig at 3am on June 10 2018 by a masked gang who forced their way into his property.

Gardai at the house in Maglin, Ballincollig, where Mikolaj Wilk was killed and his partner Elzbieta seriously injured
Gardai at the house in Maglin, Ballincollig, where Mikolaj Wilk was killed and his partner Elzbieta seriously injured

Machetes were used in the sickening attack on the Pole which was conducted in front of his terrified wife and two children.

His wife was also injured in the ferocious assault.

The two prime suspects in the murder fled the country within 24 hours of the killing.

Both are now believed to be living between the various Baltic States.

Mr Comyn was told the Garda investigation was "live, ongoing and active."

Gardaí sought a six month adjournment to facilitate their ongoing investigation.

Mr Comyn adjourned matters until October 3 when Gardaí will update him on progress with their probe.

The inquest previously heard evidence of the gruesome injuries suffered by Mr Wilk when he was subjected to a frenzied attack by a masked gang of between three and four men.

The gang forced their way into the property and attacked Mr Wilk while his terrified wife and two children were also present.

Amongst the weapons believed to have been used to attack the Polish gardener was a machete.

Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster found Mr Wilk suffered multiple injuries.

She conducted a full post mortem examination at Cork University Hospital (CUH) on June 11 last.

"The cause of death was haemorrhage and shock due to multiple blows with a sharp weapon in association with a traumatic brain injury," she said.

Mr Wilk's wife, Elzbieta, and his two children, have since returned to their native Poland.

Mrs Wilk had also suffered serious injuries in the June 10 attack.

Last July, Gardaí conducted an exhaustive technical examination of a number of vehicles seized in raids across Cork as part of the hunt for the killers of Mr Wilk.

Detectives are focused on whether a Cork-based gang assisted the savage killing at the behest of an East European criminal organisation who may have held some personal grudge against Mr Wilk.

The gang, based in the Baltic states, are feared for their brutality.

One garda source said between eight and ten people may have been involved - several of whom are feared to have fled Ireland within 24 hours of Mr Wilk's killing.

A total of seven properties were raided by Gardaí in the greater Cork area last summer as part of a co-ordinated operation.

Following on from these searches, a total of nine vehicles were seized for forensic examination.

Gardaí were specifically looking for any blood or DNA link to Mr Wilk as the brutality of his murder meant his killers must have left the property soaked in blood.

The seven properties searched by Gardaí include six houses and one industrial property.

Gardaí sources said they are making "steady but significant progress" in their investigation.

Gardaí acknowledged the killing was one of the most brutal ever witnessed in Cork.

Mrs Wilk underwent surgery for tendon damage in one of her hands after being cut with a machete as she tried to protect herself and her children.

The young mother also suffered head and facial injuries.

Her children were unharmed but left deeply traumatised.

A woman who was renting a room in the house was unhurt and was able to flee the property.

A short time later, a getaway car used by the gang was discovered burned out in the Waterfall area.

The sheer savagery of Mr Wilk's murder has baffled detectives.

A key theory now being examined by Gardaí is whether Mr Wilk was targeted by a criminal gang with international links over some kind of personal grudge.

Gardaí are trying to clarify if Mr Wilk may unwittingly have offended a gang through his business operations in the gardening/horticultural area - or whether he may have borrowed money from the wrong people.

They are also investigating if the savage manner in which the Polish father of two was killed was intended as a grim warning to others.

Detectives trawled through CCTV security camera footage from properties around Ballincollig though the rural nature of where Mr

Wilk lived has meant there is no footage of the actual area itself.

Gardaí also examined Mr Wilk's phone records and business transactions for any clue as to who may have held a grudge against him.

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