Killer sentenced to life for brutal Sligo murders that 'repulsed the nation'

Yousef Palani. Picture: Brian Lawless/PA
Yousef Palani. Picture: Brian Lawless/PA

A 23-year-old man has been sentenced to life for the brutal murder of two men in Sligo.

Yousef Palani, of Markievicz Heights in Sligo, murdered 42-year-old Aidan Moffitt and 58-year-old Michael Snee in separate attacks on April 10 and 12 of last year.

Palani, who was born in Iraq and moved to Ireland aged six, was also handed a 20-year sentence for an assault on a third man, Anthony Burke, who was blinded in one eye as a result of being stabbed.

Palani targeted his victims after contact with them was made on a gay dating app.

The Central Criminal Court heard how the attacks were motivated by Palani's prejudice towards gay men, and that that after being apprehended he told gardaí that he would have continued to kill.

Prosecuting counsel Lorcan Staines said garda did not believe Palani had been radicalised, and said the force wished to acknowledge the support received from the Islamic community in Sligo.

A victim impact statement from the family of Aidan Moffitt described how their lives had become a “living nightmare” following their loved one’s murder, while a statement from Mr Snee’s sister said his life had been “taken in the cruellest way imaginable”.

In his victim impact statement, Mr Burke called Palani a “coward and monster” and spoke of how he had been left with feelings of guilt, sadness and shame following the attack.

Speaking after the hearing, Sligo Garda Superintendent Barry Doyle said the horrific murders by Palani "did not just impact the heart of the community in Sligo, they also repulsed the nation".

"Michael and Aidan were well known and respected here in the community in Sligo. They were innocent men. They did no wrong. They were assaulted and murdered in their own homes," he said, adding that Mr Burke had shown “bravery and resilience” in the aftermath of his ordeal.