Eastern Beaches Local Area Command
Irish Backpacker Dies From Head Injuries Following Coogee Assault
Irish backpacker Gearoid (pronounced Gar-road) Walsh died in hospital last night following severe head injuries sustained last Sunday night in Coogee.
The 23-year-old from Dublin, Ireland, died in Prince of Wales hospital yesterday. He had been on life support since Sunday night.
Following an argument, Gearoid was punched by an unknown male outside a takeaway food store on Arden St Coogee about 11pm Sunday. He stumbled and fell onto the pavement, hitting his head. Gearoid went into cardiac arrest and stopped breathing.
Gearoid’s mother Tressa Walsh flew from Ireland to Sydney on Wednesday night to be by her son’s side and to comfort her two other children, son Ciaran, 27, (pronounced Kieron) and daughter Aoife, 22, (pronounced Ee-fa), who live in Australia. The family gave permission for Gearoid’s life support machine to be turned off yesterday.
While this is a devastating time for the family a number of Australians will benefit from Mr Walsh’s organ donation.
Police today re-issued their appeal for a man to come forward who they believe may be able to assist with inquiries. Eastern Beaches police yesterday released CCTV footage and stills of a man who had come from a Coogee hotel earlier that evening. He is described as being 25-30 years old, average build, 75kg, 175cm tall, short brown slightly curly hair, clean shaven, round face, White/European wearing a white V-neck T-shirt and jeans.
Police believe Gearoid had been drinking at hotels in the Coogee area before he got into an argument with a man at a takeaway food shop on Arden Street. Initially, Gearoid left with his brother, but returned moments later and the argument continued. The man punched Gearoid who stumbled and fell, hitting his head on the ground.
“We believe the man in the footage can help us with our inquiries.” Detective Superintendent Shayne Woolbank, Eastern Beaches LAC Commander said.
“Gearoid sadly passed away last night from the severe head injuries he sustained. Detectives are now treating this as a murder investigation which is why talking to this man in the footage could help us work out what happened that night.”
“The family has very courageously offered to help us with this appeal at the hardest time in their lives. We thank them for helping us and hope that we get some information as a result.”
Mrs. Walsh described Gearoid as “quiet and introverted” and said the last five weeks in Australia had been “the happiest of his life.”
“I can’t describe how devastated myself and Gearoid’s brother and sisters and nieces are,” Mrs. Walsh said. “We don’t blame the man who hit him – in fact we are sympathetic towards him. This is an awful tragedy for everyone.”
“Gearoid was young and full of life. He came to Australia to spend time in this beautiful country and to be with his older brother Ciaran and sister Aoife, who are lucky to live here. He came over here to work as there is no work in Ireland at the moment. Ciaran was able to get him some work in Brisbane doing roof insulations.
“This weekend was his first time in Sydney. Gearoid came down to celebrate his younger sister Aoife’s 22nd birthday.”
“In his death, Gearoid has helped six other Australians by being an organ donor. My family hopes that Australians will help us by coming forward to the Police with any information as to what happened on Sunday night.
“We thank the Police and the hospital for looking after Gearoid as best they could. But sadly our lives will never be the same without him.”