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Can I go to heaven to see dad, pleads stab victim's girl

A MAN is beginning a life sentence after he murdered his next door neighbour in front of his children.

One of the victim's children later asked could she go to heaven for her birthday after her dad was murdered

Richard Higgins (42),of New Houses, Lattin, Co Tipperary, had pleaded not guilty to the murder of Sean Murphy (29) on January 17, 2010 in the Central Criminal Court in Limerick.

But after almost six hours of deliberations yesterday, the jury found Higgins -- originally from Lenihan Avenue, Ballinacurra-Weston, Limerick -- guilty of the murder of the young father.

With his two young daughters and son looking on and screaming from inside their home, Sean Murphy died after he was stabbed in the chest.

The incident occurred after relations between the neighbours started to deteriorate.

In October 2009, Higgins' partner Emma Butler called to Mr Murphy's home and made a complaint that his children had behaved inappropriately.

Higgins then came to the Murphy home and made threats while wielding an axe.

On the day of the murder, the victim had been watching a match in a pub in Tipperary town and was brought home by his partner, Paula Hasset.

Driving towards their home, they passed a local pub where Higgins was standing outside.

He made a two fingered gesture at the couple.

Higgins walked into the estate, as Mr Murphy and Ms Hasset got their children out of their car, and shouted at his neighbour: "Come on now, you c***. I'll f***ing kill you."

The two men were pulling at each other's tops while Ms Hasset was trying to get their children inside. Mr Murphy backed away towards another house with Higgins following him.

He stabbed the victim with an ornamental dagger which he had retrieved from his home.


As Ms Hasset rushed to her partner's aid, the dying man said: "He's after stabbing me".

Higgins then walked back to his own house and said: "I told you I would get you, you c***."

Despite the efforts of emergency services and neighbours, Mr Murphy died that evening.

His father gave a victim impact statement, and told how his granddaughter asked could she go to heaven for her birthday after her dad's murder.

Judge Patrick McCarthy imposed the mandatory life sentence.

Higgins was also found guilty, by a majority verdict, on two counts of threatening to kill or cause serious harm to the deceased man and his partner, Paula Hasset.

Sentencing for these offences was adjourned.