POLICE in Malaysia are to interview the girlfriend of an Irishman mauled to death by dogs and the owner of a farm on which he was killed in an attempt to clarify how the tragedy took place.
Waterford city native Maurice Sullivan (50) was killed as a result of the savage attack by two mongrels on the tourist resort island of Penang.
He had more than 50 bite wounds on his body.
The dogs were being examined at a government veterinary clinic and will be monitored for up to 10 days while the police investigation is being carried out.
Penang Animal Sanctuary Society veterinary advisor, Dr Roland Lim called on the authorities to investigate thoroughly why the animals attacked Mr Sullivan.
"Dogs normally do not attack unless provoked," he said.
"They must investigate why the dogs attacked before putting them down."
Police spokesman Supt Hatta Md Zin said the dogs' owner, Joseph Teoh and Mr Sullivan's Polish girlfriend, Agnieszka Jablonska (28) would be called in to give statements.
Mr Sullivan had travelled to Malaysia last August to do volunteer environmental work and was accompanied by Ms Jablonska on the visit to the organic farm, but she escaped injury. He was described by friends and neighbours yesterday as "very popular and likeable".
Mr Sullivan was taking photographs in an orchard at the farm and Ms Jablonska had moved to another area, when the ferocious attack happened.
The two mongrels, which were used by the farm owner to chase off wild boar and pythons, suddenly launched themselves at the Irishman. He died within minutes.
Dr Bhupinder Singh, who carried out a post mortem examination, said he found wounds to the victim's head, neck, hands and legs. "The victim died as a result of severe haemorrhage, due to multiple injuries from the dogs' bites," he said.
A representative of the Irish embassy in Kuala Lumpur, which is extending consular assistance to the Sullivan family, attended the hospital mortuary yesterday, accompanied by Ms Jablonska. "He knew his time would come. Maurice is at peace," Ms Jablonska was quoted as telling local reporters.
"I arrived in Malaysia on November 11 and was scheduled to leave on February 11. Maurice has been here since August. I do not want to stay any longer. I want to leave immediately," she added.
While he had been working and living in Co Galway in recent years, Maurice Sullivan had grown up in the Marymount, Ferrybank area of Waterford city.
He is survived by five sisters and one brother, Kieran, who is the only family member living locally. His father David, who died some years ago, worked in the ESB, while his mother Nora is now in her 80s and is resident at a nursing home in south Kilkenny.
Waterford City Councillor Davy Walsh who lives just a few doors away from the original Sullivan family home said that the entire community was very shocked at his death.
"I knew him very well. He was always a very popular young fella and he was very artistic," Cllr Walsh said.
Mr Sullivan had trained as a carpenter and did a degree course in furniture restoration at the Galway-Mayo IT furniture school in Letterfrack.
Head of the furniture department Dermot O'Donovan said: "Maurice was a very, very likeable character, very sociable and very outgoing.
"He was very motivated in his studies here, and he'll be sadly missed by all his colleagues and friends."