THE chief suspect for battering a 56-year-old criminal to death last week has been arrested.
The 47-year-old suspect is being questioned about the killing of Larry Keane, who was found lying in a huge pool of blood on a walkway near a housing estate in Athy, Co Kildare, a week ago.
The man was arrested in Athy yesterday and is being held at Kildare Garda station.
A source explained: "This man was well known to Larry Keane and has a reputation for being very violent."
Dad-of-six Keane suffered fatal injuries to the back of his head when he was assaulted in a laneway at midnight last Thursday in Athy, Co Kildare.
He was still alive when he was found by a passer-by at a walkway between St John's Lane and Greenhills housing estate but died in hospital at 5am last Friday.
It is understood that Keane refused to reveal the identity of his attacker when asked by gardai, but CCTV and "good local intelligence" played a big part in yesterday's arrest.
A senior source explained: "Mr Keane suffered a horrendous hiding.
Because of the severe injuries to the back of his head, gardai first thought that they were caused by a weapon but it now seems far more likely that he was kicked to death. He lost a huge amount of blood at the scene."
In December 1998, Keane was handed a 15-year sentence for possession of a bomb that could have caused a blast twice as large as the Omagh explosion – this was later reduced to 10 years on appeal.
The court heard that the home-made explosives were packed into a silage bag which filled the boot of the stolen red BMW car Keane was driving.
Keane was wearing a wig and was carrying a false passport and false driving licence when he was arrested.
Former soldier Larry Keane had been living with his son Laurence in Athy recently.
After his release from Portlaoise Prison, Keane continued to come to the attention of gardai for public order and assault offences and he was a prominent mourner at the funeral of Real IRA terror chief Alan Ryan last September.
However it is understood that he was not a member of the IRA but still traded off his reputation as a dissident Republican.