herald

Thursday 17 January 2019

Pillow held over OAP's mouth in unsolved killing

The funeral of Gussie Hornibrook in 2007
The funeral of Gussie Hornibrook in 2007

A VULNERABLE pensioner was savagely beaten in his own home before having a pillow held over his mouth and then abandoned to die.

The revelation came as gardai told a coroner's inquest that despite a seven-year investigation into the murder of Gussie Hornibrook (74) in Cork, the identity of the killer and their motive remains a mystery.

The pensioner was discovered lying dead in his home at Templeacre Avenue in Gurranabraher, Cork by his brother, Robert, on November 6, 2007.

Cork coroner Dr Myra Cullinane heard that Mr Hornibrook died as a result of being beaten in the chest and neck and then tied up.

Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster said the cause of death was a combination of blunt force trauma to the chest and neck with restraint asphyxia associated with severe heart disease.

Material from a pillow was found in the mouth of the deceased.

It is suspected the intruder placed a pillow over the pensioner's mouth to obstruct his breathing. Mr Hornibrook had also been tied up.

Dr Cullinane returned a verdict of unlawful killing after being told by Gardai that while the case file remains open, they were unable to determine who entered Mr Hornibrook's house and assaulted him.

murder

Gardai are particularly keen to speak to a man who contacted them the day after the murder claiming he had vital information.

He cut his call short but said he would call back.

The man made his call from an unregistered mobile phone which could not be traced. Gardai believe this individual has vital information which could be the key to solving the murder.

The inquest heard the death shocked residents in the Gurranabraher area as Gussie Hornibrook was a frail man who had a set routine.

Det Sgt John Bryant of the Garda Technical Bureau said the pensioner's body was found in a downstairs room.

Small amounts of money were around the house. There was no sign of a robbery or forced entry.

A neighbour Tony O'Sullivan had his evidence read into the court as he was not present. Mr O'Sullivan was the last person to see Gussie Hornibrook alive.

He saw him shortly after 9pm on November 6, 2007. He gave evidence of not hearing any disturbance in the adjoining house on the night of the killing.

lunchtime

The testimony of Robert Hornibrook was also read into evidence as he has passed away.

Mr Hornibrook called to his brother's house at lunchtime the same day and found the pensioner dead on the floor.

"I put on the light and I saw Gussie lying on the floor and I said get up and he didn't move. I went over and touched his face and he was cold.

"He was lying on his back looking up. He always kept the front door open. That was his way."

A niece of the deceased, Sheila Hornibrook, went to the house after her father raised the alarm and was shocked at the scene.

"It was heartbreaking trying to get my dad out of there. I said don't touch him and to get away. I said we should all get out and call the guards."

hnews@herald.ie

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