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Catholic priest recovering following terrifying stabbing in Waterford

A Catholic priest from India is recovering at a friend’s home in Ireland after a man broke into his residence and stabbed him repeatedly in a shocking incident on Sunday morning.

Fr Bobit Augusthy was violently attacked at around 9.30am in Waterford on 30 October after he met his attacker inside the home he shares with two other priests. He was stabbed six times in the face, and four times in the back, according to reports.

Fr Augusthy, who is in his 30s and is a member of the Order of St Camillus, was living in a property located in the grounds of Waterford Regional Hospital, where he works as a chaplain. 

The attacker broke into his home and stabbed the priest with a peeling knife he grabbed from the kitchen once inside the home. 

The suspect has now been named by Gardai as 22-year-old Anthony Sweeney.

Sweeney, from O’Connell Court, Penrose Lane, Waterford City, appeared in court on Tuesday, charged with assault causing harm to the priest at his residence on the grounds of the Hospital in Ardkeen.

He allegedly “scaled a wall” from the department of psychiatry at UHW and gained access to the nearby chaplains’ house, where he came across Fr Augusthy coming out of the upstairs bathroom.

Garda have said that the “violent and completely unprovoked attack” was interrupted by another priest living in the house,who encouraged Mr Sweeney to escape by jumping from the upper floor of the house, injuring himself doing so. CCTV footage captured the man fleeing the house two minutes after the priest was stabbed at 9.16am.

The handle of the knife broke during the terrifying daylight attack, Detective Garda Liam Harty said.

The accused then removed his shoes and socks and returned to his bed in the department of psychiatry, where he was arrested shortly afterwards, Detective Harty added. He also said that while the attack was short-lived, it was very serious, and charges could be upgraded to include “attempted murder and burglary”.

As the case was outlined in court on Tuesday, the accused interrupted, turning on his microphone to say: “Can you get on with it?” The Irish Times reports.

Bail was granted by Judge John Cheatle despite an objection lodged by Gardaí.

Defence barrister Andrew Walsh said his client is entitled to a presumption of innocence and he made a request for legal aid along with a psychiatric report, both of which were granted by the judge. 

Mr Sweeney was remanded in custody and the case was put back for mention on Tuesday.

The indian-born priest had been living in Ireland for a length of time, along with his colleagues, Fr Russell and Fr John, working in the local hospital and running the chapel there.

Bishop of Waterford and Lismore,  Alphonsus Cullinan, said he was “very shocked” by what had unfolded, adding that he hoped the victim would make a full recovery.

The Indian priest, who required hospital treatment, is now recovering at a friend’s residence.

Local parish priest Fr Liam Power, who knows Fr Augusthy, said he was “shocked” by the incident. 

“The chaplains there are always on call for the sick and it’s just tragic that this should happen,” he told local media, adding that he was praying for both Fr Augusty and his colleagues. 

“All three of them do really excellent work in the hospital and the chapel there. They are on call 24 hours a day and live in that residence on the hospital grounds. There was obviously an intrusion there.

“It’s quite shocking that a priest can be exposed to such danger”, he said.

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