'We try to be happy, but there is no justice':Enduring pain for families left behind in Cork's unsolved murders

Ann Murphy hears from one mother who is waiting for justice for the murder of her son more than three years ago in Mallow and looks at other unsolved Cork murders.
'We try to be happy, but there is no justice':Enduring pain for families left behind in Cork's unsolved murders

Conor Quinn: Died after being stabbed once on Bridge St in Mallow on July 12, 2018. He was 24. The suspect has fled the country.

THE grieving mother of 24-year-old Conor Quinn says she and her family have woken up every morning for more than three years with the pain of his death, knowing that his killer is still out there.

The 24-year-old died shortly after being stabbed once by another man, on Bridge Street in Mallow, on July 12, 2018.

The suspect has since fled the country and gardaí have issued a European arrest warrant for him. But there has been no success in locating him.

Conor died just days before his partner, Stephanie, gave birth to his son, Conor Junior.

Conor’s mother, Theresa, told The Echo: “It's three years later and no one has been charged with the murder.”

Theresa said her beloved son was a “young man with all his life in front of him”.

She added: “Every day, we wake up to the same pain. Our lives will never be the same. We try to be happy, but there is no justice.”

Conor had got out of a car in the Bridge Street area at around 8.30pm on the night of the murder. During a brief confrontation, he was stabbed at least once, before the young man who stabbed him fled the scene.

At Conor’s funeral Mass, in Tipperary, the celebrant, Fr Eugene Everard, questioned why people carry knives.

He said: “Again and again, we hear that somebody’s life has ended and a knife was used. Why do we carry them? It’s when it comes to our own doorstep that we see the senselessness of it all.... We don’t need them. They bring too much pain and tragedy to people’s lives.”

The killing is thought to be linked to an earlier incident, at Cahirmee horse fair, in Buttevant, which takes place every July 12.

Conor had been living in Killavullen for a short time before he was murdered, and had relatives living in Cork. He had lived in Loughrea, in Co Galway, and Kilshane, outside Tipperary Town, when growing up. He went to school in Tipperary Town.

SUSPECT

A garda spokesman said gardaí had been given a direction by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to prosecute the suspect, but added: “The suspect in this case is believed to be outside the jurisdiction.”

He said a European arrest warrant has been issued.

The killing came just weeks after another Cork murder that remains unsolved. Gardai are still investigating the gruesome killing of Mikolaj Wilk in Ballincollig.

The 35-year-old Polish man was attacked by a gang of up to four men armed with machetes, in his rented home at Maglin, Ballincollig, on June 10, 2018. The gang burst into the house at 3am. Mikolaj died at Cork University Hospital a short time after the attack.

His wife, Elzbieta, received serious injuries to her hand and was treated in hospital.

Another woman who was staying in the house fled.

The couple’s two young children were also uninjured, but were traumatised.

Soon after being released from hospital, Elzbieta returned home to Poland with the couple’s children.

Mikolaj’s remains were repatriated to Poland for a funeral there. He had been working in Cork as a gardener and had lived here for nine years. Six people were questioned about the attack in 2019. Nobody has been charged in connection with the murder. The DPP will decide on whether any of those arrested will face charges.

Mikołaj Wilk.
Mikołaj Wilk.

A BMW car linked to the murder was found burnt out in the Waterfall area just two hours after the attack, six kilometres from the murder scene. It was bought in the Cork area in the weeks before the savage killing.

Gardai believe that at least one person was waiting for the gang in Waterfall.

While the main suspects for the horror killing fled to Eastern Europe within hours of the murder, locally-based Eastern Europeans are believed to have aided them in logistics, including transport.

Nine vehicles were seized by gardaí shortly after the killing, in a swoop on six homes and one business premises in the Ballincollig and greater Cork area.

Hundreds of hours of CCTV footage have been viewed by investigating gardaí, while up to 300 witness statements have been taken.

Phone records and email correspondence to and from Mr Wilk have all been included in the investigation.

Gardaí have also been in contact with police forces in Eastern Europe, through Europol and Interpol.

INQUEST ADJOURNED

An inquest into Mr Wilk’s death has been adjourned to allow the criminal investigation to continue.

When it was opened in November 2018, the Cork City Coroner’s Court was told that he had died from haemorrhage and shock, as a result of multiple blows with a sharp weapon, associated with a traumatic brain injury.

Following the murder, counselling was offered to gardaí who had attended the scene, given the horrific nature of the killing.

Mallow gardaí can be contacted on 022 31450 regarding the murder of Conor Quinn, while Ballincollig gardaí can be contacted on 021 4214680.

UNSOLVED CASES

THE murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier has commanded the headlines in recent months following the release of two documentary series on the 1996 murder in Schull.

However, there are several other unsolved murders in Cork including:

Nora Sheehan: The body of the 54-year-old from Killeenreendowney Avenue in Ballyphehane was found in Shippool in Innishannon on June 12, 1981 — almost a week after she disappeared.

She was last seen alive on June 6 outside the South Infirmary Hospital in Cork city. A man was charged with her murder in the weeks after the discovery of her body. However, a nolle prosequi was entered by the State in the case after the death of the pathologist who had carried out the post mortem on Mrs Sheehan’s body.

Kieran O’Flynn and Michael Crinnion: In 2010, the Real IRA claimed responsibility for the unsolved murder of Kieran O’Flynn which occurred at his home on the Thornhill Estate, Cork, on June 7, 2001. The 39-year-old, who had a conviction for importing cannabis, was shot after going to answer a knock on the door of his house at around 11.15pm. The gunman fired four shots through the door. His death came six years after brother-in-law Michael Crinnion was gunned down after he took a phone call near the doorway of a pub on Barrack Street on April 8, 1995. His murder also remains unsolved.

Gerard Staunton: The 41-year-old was getting into his car when he was shot in Westlawn estate in January 2010. The red Liteace used to carry the murderer away from the scene was found burnt out in nearby Waterfall a short time later. The Real IRA claimed responsibility for the Staunton murder within days.

Eric Cummins: On August 13, 2005, he was shot a number of times as he returned to his home at Oldcourt in Greenfields in Ballincollig at 10pm. He had just arrived home from an outing with his partner and 18-month-old son when confronted by a lone gunman. The gunman escaped in a dark-coloured Honda car parked nearby and it was later found burnt out.

Gussie Hornibrook: The 73-year-old was found dead in his home on Templeacre Avenue in Gurranabraher after midday on November 6, 2007 by his brother Robert. It is believed he had been killed some hours earlier, late on November 5. Nobody has ever been questioned or charged in relation to the murder. There was no sign of a forced entry at the home but Mr Hornibrook had always left his door unlocked. 

There was also no sign of robbery. However, an inquest into his death heard Gussie’s hands had been bound to his sides by two neck-ties. He had cuts to both sides of his face, blood on his hands, several rib fractures and other bone fractures. Gardaí feel that one man has vital information which could progress the investigation. The man rang Gurranabraher Garda Station on November 7 2017 at 9.55am and spoke to Detective Garda Derek Mulcahy for five and a half minutes.

The anonymous man ended the call by promising to make contact with an update later that day. He has not come forward since.

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