Migrant killer in Ireland handed two life sentences for double murder of gay men

Yousef Palani is led into Sligo District Court after being charged by police investigating the Sligo murders, Thursday, April 14, 2022. (Photo credit: Brian Lawless/PA Wire)
By Thomas Brooke
4 Min Read

A Muslim migrant has been handed two life sentences in Ireland for murdering two homosexual men, decapitating one and stabbing a third in the eye because of their sexual orientation.

The attack by Yousef Palani, a 23-year-old Kurd who arrived in Ireland at the age of six under a U.N. protection program, was described by Irish media outlets as “the worst homophobic attack in the history of the state,” and was denounced as “unspeakable” by the sentencing judge during his hearing earlier this week.

Palani pleaded guilty to murdering Aidan Moffitt and Michael Snee in April last year and admitted to intentionally causing serious harm to Anthony Burke, all of whom he duped into meeting with him in the town of Sligo through the use of gay messaging apps.

The court heard how one victim was stabbed 43 times and decapitated, while the other sustained 25 stab wounds.

The attacker’s semen was found at the residence of his third victim who was stabbed in the eye but survived, although Palani denied to arresting officers that he was gay, calling homosexuality a “sin” and adding: “You won’t find many Muslims gay and religious.”

He insisted that he was not homophobic and claimed that mental illness had been responsible for the attacks.

“I want to tell you at this time I was mentally ill, I heard voices, they told me to do it,” he said during a police interview, revealing that his mother had urged him to visit a doctor but he had not done so.

He also explained that he had anger management problems and could “get angry very quickly,” but claimed there was “no specific reason” why he murdered his victims.

Chillingly, Palani told the authorities he would have continued killing had he not been caught, with police sources telling Irish media he had “at least half a dozen” more intended victims.

An exposé by the Irish Examiner revealed the disturbing history of Palani dating back to his childhood. Having grown up in state-funded accommodation after his family migrated from the Kurdish-populated region of northern Iraq when he was six, reports from local residents told a story of how Palani would attack other children in the neighborhood and, upon his arrival at secondary school, was deemed a trouble-maker for pulling the sinks off the walls of the bathrooms in his first term.

Neighbors told the newspaper that Palani had dealings with the police from a young age and was reportedly arrested on suspicion of criminal damage but was never formally charged.

The killer reportedly became very withdrawn in the months leading up to the murders and was a notable absence in the local community.

At his sentencing hearing at the Central Criminal Court on Monday, Ms. Justice Mary Ellen Ring condemned the atrocities committed by Palani.

“The right to privacy may end with the deceased, but the right to respect never goes,” she said.

“These three men, who were and are loved and cherished by their families and friends, I know that they were and are complete human beings of which their sexuality was just one part of who they are.

“Shame is borne of one person in this courtroom alone. These three men were proud and that’s how it should be,” she added.

None of Palani’s family ever attended a court appearance and have not frequented the local mosque or been seen in the community since the attacks.

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