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Priest was tied to bed and stabbed in neck

The Irish missionary priest savagely murdered in Kenya was due to retire home to Co Limerick next year.

Shocking details of the murder of Fr Jeremiah Roche have emerged, as police in Kenya concentrate their investigations on two suspects.

It is understood the priest was stripped naked, tied to a chair and was then stabbed in the throat and hit on the head with a blunt object.

The robbers left the scene with Fr Roche's blood-stained clothes, a CD player and two mobile phones. His clothes were recovered a kilometre away.

The killing took place close to Kericho, in the heart of the tea producing area of Kenya which last year experienced serious post-election violence between rival tribes.

Fr Roche was due to retire to his home parish in Athea, Co Limerick, next year after more than 40 years of dedicated service to the Kiltegan Fathers in Africa. The tragic priest's family have spoken of their grief and said they were "shocked and saddened" by the news.

"Jerry was a lovely man, he devoted his life to his faith and the church and he is someone whom we are all very proud of," said his niece Anne Cunningham.

"There were five boys and six girls in his family growing up and he was the only one to become a priest.

"Everyone was very proud of him and his faith and dedication to the church in Africa. He loved it over there.

"Even when he was home, he was working to raise money for his parish in Kenya and always received great support from everyone in west Limerick. We are just terribly sad here. All we have are good thoughts of Jerry."

Father Michael Sinnott, who was kidnapped by armed gunmen in the Philippines last month, said: "It's a terrible thing to happen."

He went on to hail the work of Irish missionaries around the world, as well as the "real heroes, who are the priests in Ireland who are working day by day to serve the people, under a lot of pressure".

Relatives received the grim news yesterday in a phonecall from the Kiltegan Fathers.

Fr Roche was the only Catholic priest in the Keongo parish and had only recently overseen the construction of a church in the area.

Source Evening Herald

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