Stabbed grandad was victim of random attack
A GRANDAD who was stabbed to death while babysitting his grandchildren was the victim of a random attack by a man suffering from a serious mental illness, it emerged last night.
Michael Gannon (55) died when he was stabbed in the heart on the doorstep of his daughter's home in Skerries, Dublin, where he was minding her two children aged five and nine.
But sources have revealed that the victim was in the wrong place at the wrong time and was stabbed because he was the first person his attacker had encountered.
It has emerged that a 29-year-old Romanian man who was in custody last night has "serious mental issues" and "suffered a complete breakdown".
He was arrested by gardai a short time after the attack at the house next door where he had locked himself inside. The murder weapon was also recovered.
The suspect is understood to have been treated in a psychiatric hospital in recent years.
Gardai found Mr Gannon collapsed and fatally wounded when they went to the house. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
"The man with the knife has serious mental issues and was in the midst of a serious breakdown," a source said.
A senior source ruled out an earlier theory that a barking dog had led to the horrific attack at Mourne Park in Skerries around 6pm on Thursday.
"This man was on a trajectory and there was no history between him and the victim of this attack," the source added.
The suspect had his period of detention extended last night until today when he is expected to be charged.
However, a senior source said that the man's state of mind is such that he is likely to be moved to the Central Mental Hospital for observation.
It has also emerged that Mr Gannon, from Cappagh Avenue in Finglas, was babysitting for his daughter Jade, who had been in court earlier in the day.
She had met gardai by appointment and was subsequently arrested and brought to Balbriggan District Court.
After this court appearance, she spent a number of hours at the Dochas Centre women's prison in the Mountjoy complex. She had been jailed for 21 days for failing to pay a fine but was released around 4pm.
She had not yet returned to the house by the time that her beloved father was stabbed.
Ms Gannon's partner, Philip Breen, the father of the two children, is currently serving a prison sentence for possession of €10m of drugs. Breen (38) was convicted in connection with a seizure of 1.2 tonnes of cannabis at Carbury, Co Kildare, in August 2005. The Dublin man, who is originally from Blanchardstown, subsequently spent 18 months on the run before being recaptured by gardai in 2007.
The Irish Independent understands that he is being held at Shelton Abbey open prison and has applied to the Prison Service for compassionate temporary release to comfort his partner and his children.
The murder victim's devastated partner has said she wants answers.
Nicola Lee (42) said he phoned her an hour before the murder to say he would be home soon.
When Ms Lee got to the scene of the attack, Michael's body was still there but she was not allowed to see him.
"I'm with him 14 years," she told the Irish Independent.
"How can I explain about Mick? He was a good man, a good father, a good partner. You can't describe him. He always gave to me unconditional love always. He always said that to me," she added.
It was also revealed that this is the second tragedy for the Gannon family after Daniel O'Haire – a nephew of Michael Gannon – died last year.
Mr O'Haire (31) had been confined to a wheelchair for almost a decade after he was stabbed in the neck in 2003.
Paul Williams Special Correspondent