Notorious Baltic gang at the centre of machete murder probe over '€50,000 dispute'
Hard-working family man may have been slaughtered over €50,000 dispute
Machete murder victim Mikolaj Wilk may have been the victim of a €50,000 dispute with a ruthless East European gang, gardaí fear.
The 35-year-old Polish gardener was hacked to death by four men at his home in Cork - a killing described by officers as one of the most brutal ever in the area.
The gang behind the murder are based in the Baltic states of Latvia and Lithuania but operate across Europe and are heavily involved in drugs and car theft rackets.
In Ireland, the gang, who are notorious for their extreme violence, deal in stolen luxury cars and their shipment to overseas black markets.
Mr Wilk, a father of two described as a hard worker and a devoted family man, is believed to have somehow fallen foul of them, although detectives are still unclear over the exact reason.
Theories being considered range from him unwittingly borrowing money from the gang to expand his business or that his gardening operations may accidentally have brought him into conflict with the gang through their involvement in cannabis grow houses.
The criminals are believed to have demanded cash from Mr Wilk. One source said it is feared the sum involved was in excess of €50,000.
The savage killing on June 10 is believed to have been ordered when the money was not surrendered.
Mr Wilk's wife, Elzbieta, who was also seriously injured by the gang, returned home to Poland with their children last weekend to make funeral arrangements.
Her husband's injuries were so horrific that his children were unable to view his remains and his funeral involved a closed coffin.
Friends indicated that Ms Wilk is unlikely to return to Ireland. She has already used social media to advertise toys and possessions still in Ireland as being for sale.
One businessman who knew Mr Wilk, Denis Lucey, said he was a "hard worker, a man who lived for his family and a great guy".
"I can't make any sense of it. Why would someone work that hard if there was another income stream? He seemed to be a very hard-working, Christian man," he said.
Mr Lucey appealed to anyone who may have information about the killing to contact gardaí.
"They (the killers) have to be caught - they must be held accountable.
"She (Elzbieta) didn't speak a whole lot except to say how upsetting it was for the children," he said.
"They wanted to see him, see the body but they were unable to do that. She is trying to cope with that now."
It has emerged that all four men believed to be involved in the killing fled Ireland within 24 hours of the murder.
But up to a dozen of their associates are understood to have stayed in Ireland.
Seven properties were raided by gardaí in the greater Cork area last week with nine vehicles seized.
No arrests were made but technical and forensic examinations of the vehicles seized are ongoing.
Garda sources said yesterday that they were making "steady but significant progress" in their inquiries into the machete murder.
It happened at Bridge House, Maglin, outside Ballincollig, at 3am on June 10.