Joe Heffernan

A suspect charged with the murder of a 21-year-old student in County Clare told police he had ‘killed the devil’.

Joe Heffernan from Cappabeg, Barefield, was arrested and charged with the murder of his young neighbor Eoin Ryan on Tuesday.

The 31-year-old Heffernan replied to the charges at Ennis police station by stating: “I killed the devil.”

Ryan’s naked body was found dumped in a barrel in a wooded area near the Clare village.

Heffernan was remanded on custody to Limerick prison despite a plea from his solicitor to send him to the Central Mental Hospital in Dublin.

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The murdered student had just completed his final year studies in law at the University of Limerick and was due to graduate in August.

His father Don is a former president of the Teachers Union of Ireland.

Local parish priest Fr Harry Brady said: “Don Ryan has told me that no words could describe the hurt the family is going through.

“The Ryan family is absolutely shattered. Eoin was a very lively intelligent, popular, bright boy.

“Neighbors and friends are at the Ryan home to sympathize with the family. Nobody is saying anything. Neighbors are at a loss as to what to say. His friends are in a terrible shock.

“It is a terrible tragedy. There is nothing much you can say, but be with them and bear the pain with them.”