Man jailed for life for dating app murders of two gay men in Ireland

Aidan Moffitt (L) and Michael Snee (R)

A 23-year-old man has been jailed for the murder of two gay men and assaulting another, all of whom he met on a gay dating app, in County Sligo, Ireland.

Yousef Palani, of Markievicz Heights, in Sligo, murdered Aidan Moffitt, 41, and Michael Snee, 58, and seriously assaulted a third man in April 2022, during a four-day spree of violence. 

On Monday (23 October), Palani admitted the offences at Central Criminal Court, with Justice Mary Ellen Ring handing him life sentences on each count of murder and an additional 20 years for the assault on Anthony Burke. 

Evidence shows, as reported by The Irish Times, that Palani used a gay dating app to find his victims and sought gay Irish men who lived alone. He then tied them up before stabbing them to death and mutilating their bodies in their homes.

‘A coward and a monster’

Burke, in his impact statement, said: “I didn’t realise I was going to meet a coward and a monster [who] would destroy my life. My heart goes out to Aidan and Michael’s families for the suffering they have to endure.” 

Burke recalled Palani “shoving” a knife in his eye and said he has suffered insomnia, heightened anxiety and mood deterioration since the attack.

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The sentences will run concurrently, with Justice Ring condemning Palani for committing “unspeakable violence” against three innocent men.

Ring said the men were “cherished and valuable” members of their communities and had “nothing to be ashamed of”, adding that “shame is borne in this court by one person alone”.

Palani pleading guilty to the murder of Moffitt at Cartron Heights, Sligo, on 10 April 2022 and the murder of Snee at City View, Connaughton Road, Sligo, two days later. 

He also pleaded guilty to causing serious harm to Burke, on 9 April. 

‘Hostility and prejudice’ against gay men

The gardaí [police] say Palani would have continued to kill gay men if he had not been arrested on the morning of 13 April.

Detective Conor Jordan told Lorcan Staines, prosecuting, that gardaí believe Palani carried out the attacks due to “hostility and prejudice” against gay men.

He told gardaí that he wasn’t gay, because he was a Muslim, despite forensic evidence showing he engaged in sexual activity with at least one victim.

Michael Bowman, acting for Palani, offered an apology on behalf of his client, saying: “He recognises the pain, loss and suffering on the deceased and the injured party. He accepts he acted grotesquely and without explanation or justification.” 

Following the attacks, Sligo’s LGBTQ+ community was left “shocked” and “in disbelief”. 

Maxton Ó Floinn, communications officer with Sligo Pride, previously told PinkNews: “It was shocking and disturbing to know just how physically close it happened.”