For five years, the answer to who killed Joe Deacy in Gortnasillagh, Co. Mayo remained a mystery. The 21-year-old was found on August 12, 2017 in front of a house where he had stayed the night. The GAA fan, who lived in England but had strong links to Ireland through his family, suffered bruised eyes, a bloody nose and head injuries from blunt force trauma. He died later in hospital.
Gardaí first pointed out that Mr Deacy, who was from St Albans near London, died as a result of a fall and there was no suspicion of third-party fault. That later changed – he had been killed. Five years later, his killer or killers were never caught.
Now his family, who gathered to commemorate him last weekend, wants the most important questions answered.
On August 14, 2017, then-State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy completed her examination of Mr Deacy’s body. A murder investigation began in the evening.
To mark the last anniversary, Mr Deacy’s family have spoken out about their concerns about the Garda Inquiry.
“Do I trust that we will get justice for Joe? No, not anymore,” his mother, Alison Theobald, said. “My faith has gone because nothing is happening. We’re no further.”
It was around 3.45am when Mr. Deacy sent his last message to his friends on Snapchat – a video from the house he was staying at. Holding the camera phone in front of his face, he was seen nodding his head and smiling while the friend he was staying with stood behind him. Eventually, the friend said, “Shut up, Joe. Stay down.” They were in good spirits.
Hours later, Mr. Deacy was dead.
He was found outside the home around 6:30 a.m. after a cyclist spotted him on the ground. It is believed the cyclist did not stop but called the resident of the home to tell him what he had seen up to 15 meters from the main road, according to the family.
The homeowner, who claimed in a newspaper interview to have spent 20 minutes trying to revive Mr Deacy, is understood to have made a call to emergency services and Swinford Garda Station.
At around 7:30 a.m., he was taken to Mayo University Hospital. While he was in the emergency room, it was discovered that he had no items with him other than his cell phone and wallet. His family says he was only wearing his boxer shorts.
They were told he was fully clothed when paramedics arrived – so where are his clothes?
They said they were also told that an examination by doctors revealed that he appeared to have been “repeatedly kicked in the head, his pupils cauterized and dilated, his blood pressure very high, and his pulse very low” – leading to indicates strong intracranial pressure.
He was flown to Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, but his injuries – similar to those in a car accident – were too severe and he died.
“Joseph was alive in that house and two hours later he was dead. I need to know how Joseph ended up driving? How did he get from the house to the driveway?” said Mrs. Theobald.
She recalled contacting the hospital and was told, “There’s nothing we can do for him.” She said, “I cried. I knew someone killed him.”
Gardaí took Mr. Deacy’s cell phone. To this day, the family does not know if there was any other news on it useful to the investigation, or if iPhone location services were active to pinpoint exactly where he was just before his fatal injury. They weren’t told.
His traveling bag was taken from the house where he had stayed and given to a relative. Inside was his watch, which was broken.
On August 24, his body was handed over to his family. Sometime in the past week, a second, private post-mortem was performed on Mr Deacy’s body, organized by someone outside the family. The results were not made available to them.
Mr. Deacy’s father, Adrian, often thinks back to this time as it was the day “my life ended the way it was”.
“I thought after five years we would be further down,” he said. “I don’t know what she is [gardaí] are in. My life is ruined. It’s about how I deal with it. The people who did this deserve to go inside for what they did. We will never give up.”
Mr Deacy’s cousin, Deirdre Moran, from Co Mayo, can still picture the moment in hospital when she was told he would not survive.
She had arrived at around 8.20am with her husband Jarlath and their two children. “The nurse sat me down and said, ‘This is not good news – Joe is brain dead.’ The surgeon told us if he had come to him sooner it would have been a different story,” Ms Moran said.
“We feel frustrated, angry, disappointed. We want answers. Joe deserves justice.”
Jarlath Moran recalled the confusion in the hospital when Mr Deacy arrived.
“The warden said it had fallen, there had been an accident. That’s what they led us to believe,” he said.
On November 15, 2017, two men were arrested in connection with the death of Mr Deacy. They were released without charge.
Cousin Michelle Deacy said she is still focused on the last two weeks when Mr Deacy came to stay with her. She had dropped him off at the bus station on August 11 to visit his friend. “He said he was coming back that night, then texted to say he was staying,” she said.
The next day she received a call to say that Mr. Deacy had been in an accident and she made her way to the hospital where she was taken to a room.
“The counselor told me his injuries were related to a car accident or a severe beating and she said we know it wasn’t a car accident.
“I was taken to see Joe in ICU and he looked very peaceful, no bruises, just a black eye and blood on his nose. I honestly thought he was going to pull through.
“Seeing Joe lying on the bed was just heartbreaking. I said to the guard, “I assume this is under investigation because it looks like Joe was attacked,” and she said, “The crime scene is there. They think it was a fall.’ She kept telling me it was a fall and I kept telling her it wasn’t a fall. I checked Joe’s hands, there were no marks. I knew something was wrong somewhere.”
It was Mr. Deacy’s sixth visit to his cousin and the family had “the best two weeks”.
Activist Marita Shannon said she was “surprised” by the apparent reluctance of some people to support the family following Mr Deacy’s death.
“So I went home and started a campaign on Facebook,” she said.
She claimed attempts had been made to “silence” her online campaign.
A senior detective agreed to speak to him Sunday independentbut this was later “not approved” by An Garda Síochána.
Instead, a spokesman said Mr Deacy’s case was a “living and active murder investigation under a senior investigating officer” and the force “does not comment on any criminal investigation”.
Last weekend detectives interviewed some of Mr. Deacy’s friends five years after his death.
But his sister, Charlotte Harper, said: “How could it have taken so long? It’s been five years. As much as I would like to have hope and trust in the Gardaí, it feels dramatically like it’s too little, too late.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/news/five-years-on-still-no-answers-for-murdered-mans-family-41925858.html Five years later, still no answers for the murdered man’s family