The solicitor of a 22-year-old man who has been charged with murdering two men in Sligo town earlier this week has told the Judge in the case that he was seeking an immediate psychiatric assessment.
Yousef Palani, who is of middle eastern origin, but became a naturalised Irish citizen and is living in Markievicz Heights in Sligo, has also been charged with assault causing serious harm to another man, Anthony Burke, in Sligo on April 9th last.
According to The Times one of the victims, Aidan Moffitt, was beheaded after being violently attacked in his own home. Mr Moffit and Michael Snee, both single men, were believed to have been contacted by their killer on the gay dating app, Grindr, before being killed in their homes.
The accused was taken from Sligo Garda Station to the nearby courthouse yesterday afternoon in a garda van, as a crowd of angry people had gathered.
In Sligo District Court, Judge Sandra Murphy heard that Mr Palani had been charged with the murder of Aidan Moffitt at 2.57, and with the murder of Michael Snee at 2.55pm on Thursday.
The accused’s solicitor, Gerry McGovern, told the court that there would be no application for bail and Mr Palani was then remanded in custody to appear at Sligo District Court by video link on April 21st.
He told Judge Murphy that he was asking for an immediate psychiatric assessment. “This is quite an urgent case,” he said that the defendant by assessed “immediately”.
Mr McGovern also asked that the accused be placed on suicide watch by the prison service
As the van left the court, a large crowd shouted angrily as it passed taking Mr Palani to Castlerea Prison.
A large crowd outside the court in Sligo in as Yousef Palani leaves having been charged with the murder of Aidan Moffitt and Michael Snee pic.twitter.com/tUx1WTJbdg
— Shannonside FM News (@shannonsidenews) April 14, 2022
Detectives say that the suspect was identified from CCTV footage taken near one of the victims’ homes. Phone data is believed to have shown that the man was in contact with the two victims shortly before he died.
The Times also reports that Gardai believe the suspect was planning to kill more victims – and that he had compiled a list of men he had contacted on the dating app. They also believe that at least one another man was the victim of a violent assault after agreeing to meet the suspect.
The killings have caused profound shock and fear in the town, in particular because of their gruesome nature, and because the victims were well-known and liked in their communities.
Mr Moffitt (42) was a Fine Gael activist and his colleague and friend Blaine Gaffney told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programm that he was “a very honest, caring person … he was just an all-around good guy.”
“But more than that, a really, really good man with a good heart and to think that something like this could happen is just shocking. I just can’t comprehend what’s happening.”
The body of Michael Snee (58) was found by his teenage nieces who went to check on their beloved uncle when he failed to respond to texts and messages.
Fr Noel Rooney, parish priest of St Joseph’s and Calry, who described the murders as “beyond belief” said Mr Snee was “just a –gentle soul”.
Garda superintendent Aidan Glacken told a press conference yesterday: “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.”