Taoiseach hails bravery of assaulted man who helped gardai catch double murderer

Anthony Burke lost an eye in the attack by Yousef Palani (PA)
Anthony Burke lost an eye in the attack by Yousef Palani (PA)

Leo Varadkar has hailed the bravery of a man who gave evidence to the Garda after being attacked by double murderer Yousef Palani.

Palani, 23, was sentenced to life on Monday for the murders of Aidan Moffitt, 42, and Michael Snee, 58, in Sligo last April. Garda believe he was motivated by hostility towards gay men.

He was also handed a concurrent 20-year sentence for an assault causing harm to Anthony Burke in Sligo on the day prior to the first murder.

The testimony of Mr Burke, who lost an eye in the attack, was seen as crucial in gardai efforts to track down Palani following the murders.

Sligo deaths
Yousef Palani murdered two men last year (PA)

Palani plead guilty to his crimes at the Central Criminal Court in July.

Mr Moffitt was a prominent businessman and a Fine Gael activist while Mr Snee was a retired care assistant.

Mr Varadkar expressed condolences to the families of both men in the Dail on Tuesday. He told TDs he had met Mr Moffitt on occasion through their joint association with Fine Gael.

He said he wanted to pay tribute to the Garda for the work they did to secure the prosecution.

The Foynes Flying Boat & Maritime Museum
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said Mr Burke’s evidence to the gardai was crucial (PA)

The Taoiseach commended the bravery of Mr Burke.

“I just really want to extend my admiration to him and my thanks to the gardai in particular,” Mr Varadkar said.

“I just want to particularly pay tribute to him and the fact that he went to the gardai and gave them crucial information, really the crucial information which enabled the gardai to apprehend the man who carried out those terrible murders in Sligo of Aidan Moffitt and Michael Snee.

“I really want to pay tribute to him again, and also recognise the gardai and their work.”