Words: Alastair James; Image: Victims Michael Snee (right) and Aidan Moffitt
Irish police (Gardaí) are investigating the murders of two men who were found mutilated in their homes in Sligo.
Aidan Moffitt, 42, and Michael Snee, 58, were found dead in their homes on Sunday (10 April) and Tuesday (12 April) respectively. A 22-year-old man has been arrested.
The suspect, who was arrested today (Thursday 14 April) remains in custody, and police are contacting gay men he may have interacted with recently to see if they can help with the investigation.
"It might not be that we get a clear answer"
The Times reports that the suspect is originally from the Middle East but is an Irish citizen. The paper also reports that police believe he had been in touch with the victims on Grindr and planned to kill more men.
Analysis of the man's phone indicates he was in contact with both Moffitt and Snee before they died, as per the Times.
According to the Irish Times, Gardaí are not looking for any other suspects in addition to the 22-year-old, who was arrested at his home in Sligo hours after Snee's body was found by two of his nieces on Tuesday (12 April) night.
Police aren't sure when Mr. Snee died.
Mr. Moffitt, a Fine Gael activist, is understood to have been murdered on Sunday (10 April) after attending The Village Inn pub. A cleaner discovered the remains of his body on Monday. He had also been behaded.
Police are also said to be confident there are no other victims and have searched through a list of missing men in the area.
They are also determining if there was a "hate motive" and whether sexuality was a motivating factor in the murders.
One source has said: "It’s complicated. It might not be that we get a clear answer. The suspect himself is not necessarily giving clear answers."
Police are also trying to link an attack in Sligo on Friday (8 April) in which a man lost an eye after being stabbed in the face to the murders.
In a statement, Sligo Chief Superintendent Aidan Glacken said: "Michael and Aidan were well known and respected in this community. They were assaulted and murdered in their own homes. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families at this time and indeed their friends and the wider community in Sligo."
He added: "Gardaí are also investigating whether Michael and Aidan met their attacker online. Meeting people online is a normal activity. Meeting people online should be a safe activity. But as with any online activity everybody should be aware of personal safety advice."
He has also directed people to online guidance about meeting people online.
The Irish Justice Minister, Helen McEntee, has tried to reassure the LGBTQ community after a number of incidents.
"These are incidents that we thought were behind us. And again, I just want to reassure people that any crimes that are motivated by hate or by prejudice, or by discrimination, will not be tolerated and will carry higher sentences. I hope to introduce the hate crime Bill in a matter of weeks to respond."
In a statement, Paula Fagan, the CEO of LGBT Ireland said: "This has been a dark week for the LGBTI+ community in Ireland. We are still reeling from the vicious homophobic assault on Dame Street in Dublin in recent days and, now, we are deeply saddened by events in Sligo."
She added that a wave of recent crime highlights the need for "comprehensive Hate Crime legislation" and that she will be speaking with lawmakers about pushing forward with plans to introduce such legislation.
"The LGBTI+ Community has the right to feel and be safe on our streets, and online," Paula continued.