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Monday, March 27, 2023

‘A terrible shock for the community’: Castlebar murder suspect had pub row with person known to victim

Gardaí are hoping CCTV footage from a nearby village will help them as they investigate the murder of Mayo farmer John Brogan.

t emerged that the man arrested for the killing had been in a pub earlier in the day and had a row with a person well known to the victim.

Mr Brogan (82) was found dead in his home at Pheasants Hill on the outskirts of Castlebar on Sunday evening after passers-by were alerted to a fire in the hallway.

After emergency services put out the blaze, Mr Brogan was found inside the property having suffered apparent gunshot wounds.

A man in his mid-60s was arrested in the vicinity and a weapon, believed to be a shotgun, was recovered.

Gardaí are now examining if the chief suspect had been at a pub in a nearby village earlier on Sunday and coincidentally encountered a person well known to Mr Brogan.

It is believed there had been a verbal row between the two, and gardaí have collected CCTV from businesses in the village to help establish the movements of the suspect in the time leading up to the murder.

Gardaí are also aware of a previous outburst and accusations by the chief suspect directly to Mr Brogan in the recent past.

Pathologist Margot Bolster arrived at Mr Brogan’s house yesterday to carry out a preliminary examination on his body, and his remains were then taken to Mayo University Hospital at Castlebar for a post-mortem examination.

Investigating gardaí want to establish if Mr Brogan’s death was due to the fire or the apparent gunshot wounds.

It has since emerged that Mr Brogan had been acquitted last week of a number of historical sexual abuse allegations against him and had been facing more charges in relation to allegations of historical abuse of a different person.

On March 1, Mr Brogan was acquitted of 16 sex assault charges and found not guilty of four others by direction of the judge at a sitting of Mayo Circuit Court.

He was due to receive a trial date this summer for 45 sexual assault and indecent assault charges against a different person. The charges related to a period of time between 1982 and 1991.

Mr Brogan has lived alone in a bungalow on the Castlebar to Westport road since his brother died in 2017.


Scorch marks from a fire are seen at the house where John Brogan (82) was found murdered on Sunday. Photo: Padraig O’Reilly

There are a number of small outbuildings behind the house, and a small field in front of it.

The house remained sealed off yesterday as members of the garda technical bureau carried out a forensic examination of the scene.

The hallway and front door of the property were visibly scorched, but the flames had not spread to the rooms or the roof.

Neighbours reacted with shock at the killing, and said it was a tragedy for everyone in the community.

Mr Brogan was described as a hard worker who would help locally with saving turf and splitting logs for firewood.

“He kept a number of donkeys and ducks, and he would put them out in the field in the morning,” one local said.

“People would be watching for them or for smoke from his chimney to make sure he was up and about. He had a sister and other relatives who would also check-in on him regularly.

“We were all shocked at what happened.”

Another person said: “When we saw the gardaí and the evidence of the fire we thought that it had been some sort of tragic accident. But then we heard about the man being arrested. It was awful.”

Many people in the area politely declined to comment on the matter.

Mayo Fine Gael TD Alan Dillon said the incident was “a terrible shock for the community”.

“It is very difficult to comprehend when something like this happens in the local community. On a quiet Sunday evening people were sitting down and then this awful news spread in relation to the tragedy,” he said.

“For a county like Mayo, while we have had isolated incidents…, it does bring that sense of real tragedy and real grief, and a sadness, to the local community.”

The suspect remained in garda custody in Castlebar last night and it is expected that gardaí will either release or charge him this morning in relation to Mr Brogan’s death.

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