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Sunday 16 December 2018

'Gentle giant' Luke saved 5 lives after tragic attack death - Heartbroken mum

Tragic Luke O'Reilly died on Monday after being attacked in the early hours of November 1
Tragic Luke O'Reilly died on Monday after being attacked in the early hours of November 1

The heartbroken mother of a young man who died after being assaulted on Halloween night, has said her son was a talented young boxer who dreamed of becoming the next Conor McGregor.

Luke O'Reilly (20), from the Kiltipper estate in Tallaght, west Dublin, was attacked while on a night out socialising with friends on October 31.

He tragically lost his fight for life on Monday, 13 days after the assault.

His devastated mum, Janet O'Brien, yesterday told the Herald how her "affectionate" son has now given the gift of life to five people through organ donation. She said this had helped with the pain of Luke's loss.

In the early hours of November 1, Luke and a pal were on the Old Blessington Road in Tallaght village when it is believed Luke was assaulted by a third person.

Luke, who just turned 20 in August, fell to the ground unconscious after the apparent one-punch attack.

Friend

Speaking from her home, his mother described how her son was a fighter who had overcome challenges in his life.

The youngster has also been described as a "great friend" who was like a "real father figure" to his younger sisters.

Janet told of the sequence of events that followed the attack, and how for two weeks she held out hope that her son would survive.

The horrifying events unfolded after Luke had gone to a local venue in Tallaght with friends on Halloween.

"I got a phone call from gardai in Harcourt Street at around 3am. They said Tallaght gardai were dealing with an incident in which Luke had been attacked and that he was on the way to Tallaght Hospital in an ambulance," Janet said.

"I had a jumble of thoughts in my mind. I was angry in case Luke had been in trouble, but I also knew the gardai wouldn't ring unless it was serious, so I got to the hospital as quickly as I could and met a mother of one of Luke's friends there who had heard about what had happened.

"The doctors said Luke was responding at that stage but then a good few hours passed where they were assessing him and doing tests, and then they told me he had a big bleed on the brain.

"They decided to transfer him to Beaumont but there was even a risk in transporting him, that's how bad he was. They had to get a team together to go with him.

"They told me Luke was gravely ill. I could see he had a black eye and a cut on his face, but I was still hopeful he would pull through.

"I knew it was very serious when Beaumont was mentioned, but I hoped they could drain the bleed and he would be OK.

"Luke did stabilise after surgery and he was under sedation.

"Then on Wednesday last they said they would try and bring him out of it, and he actually started to respond, he would squeeze a doctor's hand when they asked him to," Janet added.

"But then his blood pressure and heart rate went up so they sedated him again.

"I rang first thing every morning to see how he was, but when I rang on Sunday they said his pupils weren't responding.

"We went in to the hospital but they said there was nothing could be done for Luke," she added.

"We decided to donate Luke's organs.

"He was 6ft 3in tall and he was very fit and healthy. The hope that five other families got a good news phone call does help ease the pain."

Speaking about her son, Janet entwined her fingers together.

"He was very affectionate, and being six foot three tall he would nearly smother you when he gave you a hug," she said.

"Luke had his own problems with depression and he had his ups and downs as a result, but he worked hard to fight it.

"He had a core group of great friends, and he was a great friend to them too.

"He had a great love of boxing, and was a member of the Crumlin Boxing Club where one of the trainers, Philip Sutcliffe, coached him.

"He wanted to be the next Conor McGregor," Janet said with a smile.

Luke studied for his Leaving Cert at Tallaght Community School and was studying accounting and business at Crumlin College.

"He was the eldest of three and was a like a bodyguard to his two younger sisters. He was a real father figure to them," said Luke's stepfather, Gary Higgins.

Detectives at Tallaght Garda Station launched a murder investigation into Luke's death following a post-mortem.

A 20-year-old man was arrested on Monday afternoon in relation to the killing and was being questioned at Tallaght Garda Station yesterday.

He is expected to appear before the Criminal Courts of Justice today.

Crumlin Boxing Club said in a statement on social media that it was "devastated to hear of the sad passing of club member Luke O'Reilly".

"We offer our sincere condolences to Luke's family, friends... We are all thinking of you at this sad time. Rest in peace Luke," the statement added.

Other tributes have been paid this week to Luke, who has been described as a "kind-hearted" and "genuine" young man.

A source described him as "a very, very decent young man", and said he "was very popular among his friends".

Shock

Luke had played football for local soccer team St Maelruans FC, who also paid tribute.

"Luke played alongside a number of our current senior players at underage level and had recently expressed an interest in rejoining the club," the club said in a statement.

"Luke's death has come as a huge shock to us at the club, particularly to those who played alongside him.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Luke's family and friends at this difficult time. May he rest in peace."

Tributes also poured in for Luke on social media, with one friend writing: "Another beautiful young life taken away today, thinking of your family and close friends."

Another friend said: "You will be sadly missed, such a kind-hearted lad. So sorry to see you go at such a young age.

"My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends."

Local Labour councillor Mick Duff described the death of the young man as "appalling".

"God love his family and what they have gone through," he said.

"The fact someone goes out innocently to enjoy Halloween and to be found lying on a roadway, its appalling."

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