AN EMOTIONAL cousin of a popular pubgoer who was killed has been ‘blown away’ by the support of the Gosport community in the wake of the tragedy.
Richard O’Leary was beaten to death during an attack while visiting family, including his mother, in Ireland last month.
His death rocked friends and family back in Gosport – and stunned punters in his local pub, the Fox Tavern.
And last night – on what would have been Mr O’Leary’s 37th birthday – dozens of people gathered to join a pool tournament in his honour at The Fox.
Among them was his cousin, Thomas Coleman, who said the family had been overwhelmed by the sympathy of the Gosport community following Mr O’Leary’s death.
The 20-year-old, who also lives in Gosport, said: ‘I speak for the whole family when I say we can’t thank the people of Gosport enough for all the support they have given us.
‘Losing Rich has been hard. It was very tragic and sad. But as a family it has brought us closer.’
Event organisers say more than 70 people took part in the tournament, which has now raised enough to pay for a memorial bench in honour of Mr O’Leary and other beloved punters who have died recently.
Tammy Kent, barmaid at the North Street venue, said she was delighted by the turnout to last night’s event. She said: ‘I knew Rich was a loved man but I didn’t know how loved he was until today.
‘It’s been absolutely brilliant. The pub has been packed. People have been coming in all day, donating to the raffle or having a shot in Rich’s honour.’
As previously reported, Mr O’Leary died at Cork University Hospital on March 23. Five days earlier he had been viciously beaten, suffering a fractured skull and swelling of the brain.
The tragedy happened as Mr O’Leary was on a night out with friends. He was due to see his newborn niece for the first time later that week.
Paying tribute to his cousin, Mr Coleman said: ‘There wasn’t a single bad bone in his body. He was always happy and outgoing. He made such an impact on the whole family.’
Builder Mr O’Leary was part of the Fox’s pool team and had been a regular at the pub for several years.
Almost £650 has been raised to pay for the tribute bench, which Tammy said would be bought by the end of the month.
Mr O’Leary was buried in Ireland. He leaves mother Catherine, brother David, and sisters Sandra, Tina and Wendy.