A GARDA manhunt is under way after a taxi driver was left to bleed to death on the side of an isolated road following a violent stabbing.
Sources have said that one theory behind the brutal killing is that dad-of-two Martin Mulligan chased more than one assailant who attempted to flee from his taxi in Kilcurry, Co Louth.
Gardai are liaising with PSNI officials over fears that the perpetrators may have fled across the border to the North.
Mr Mulligan, from Lower Point Road, Dundalk, is survived by his wife Grainne, and his two daughters, Sharon and Shauna.
The 53-year-old was viciously stabbed a number of times, and had injuries to his stomach and leg.
“Nothing can be ruled out, but gardai are looking into whether the victim robbed or got into a dispute over a fare,” the source told the Herald.
“A line of inquiry being looked at is that a person or several people may have ran from the victim’s taxi in order to avoid paying a fare.
“The likelihood is that when the victim attempted to follow the man or men who fled from his taxi, a knife or sharp weapon was produced.”
Mr Mulligan’s body was found on the road about 200 metres from his 2007 beige Skoda Octavia taxi.
Last night the victim’s family paid tribute to the hard-working taxi driver, with his nephew Gary describing him as “a loving man who lived for his family”.
“He was a very kind-natured, jovial person. He was always a bit of craic; a bit of friendly slagging,” Gary told the Herald.
“Overall, he was extremely hard-working. He loved his family and he worked so hard for them.
“Looking after his family is what drove him. He never had a bad word to say about anyone, and he was an extremely happy person,” he added,
His nephew added that everything was “perfectly normal” in the hours before Mr Mulligan left for work at approximately 9.30pm on Sunday.
“There was nothing untoward or different going on before he left,” he said.
Gary also made an impassioned appeal for information.
“Even if they think it’s trivial, please let us know,” he added.
Meanwhile Fr Michael Cusack, from St Joseph’s parish in Dundalk, urged those involved to go to a garda station.
“For God’s sake, turn yourself in,” he said.
He said the taxi driver had been working “to put bread on the table and in his efforts ended up losing his life”.
Fr Cusack said that even if those behind the vicious attack turn themselves in, it would not end the pain felt by his family.
“It’s not going to bring any real comfort to the family now, this family have lost their loved one, this mother has lost her son, a wife has lost her husband and two daughters have lost their father,” he said.
Last night, detectives from Dundalk Garda Station were conducting door-to-door inquiries in the vicinity of where the body was found.
Superintendent Gerry Curley from Dundalk Garda Station, who is leading the investigation into the death, described Mr Mulligan as a “family man”.
Officers are particularity keen to speak with anyone who engaged with Mr Mulligan from 9.30pm onwards, when he started his shift.
“He was a family man, a hard-working local man in the Dundalk area,” Supt Curley said.