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Saturday 10 December 2016

Children took photos of murder victim's body but were afraid to tell gardai

Victim Alan Desmond
Victim Alan Desmond

Children who discovered the body of murder victim Alan Desmond took camera-phone pictures him, but for days were too afraid to tell gardai about their gruesome find, an inquest into his death has been told.

One mother said that the children were afraid they would be in trouble if they contacted gardai.

Denise Warner told Dublin Coroner's Court that her 11-year-old son returned from playing in fields with friends at Killinarden Hill in Tallaght on May 18, 2013 and said "the man is still lying there".

The body of Alan Desmond (37) of Kilclare Avenue, Tallaght, was discovered among shrubs and undergrowth in fields to the rear of a secluded, abandoned farmhouse located about 800m off a country lane.

The victim's sister, Denise Desmond, said she had visited the site where her the body was found a number of times since. "I've been up there, I go up there every anniversary," she said.

Alan Desmond's last known movement was to leave the home he shared with his mother at Kilclare Avenue on April 29, 2013 at about 10pm.

Playing

Denise Warner told Coroner Dr Brian Farrell that her son returned from playing in the fields at Killinarden Hill around 8.35pm on Saturday May 18.

"He said a friend had taken pictures on her phone. He said they'd seen him (the deceased's body) the previous Wednesday but were afraid to ring the guards in case they would be in trouble," she said.

Ms Warner said she explained to her son that the dead man's family would want to know where he was. She phoned Tallaght Garda Station and Gda Brian O'Connor, who was on patrol in the area, called to her home and asked her son to show them what he had seen.

Denise Desmond asked Ms Warner from the public gallery if her son was okay. She wept as Ms Warner explained that the boy was fine, he had tough days but had received counselling.

Det Insp John Walsh said Mr Desmond's body was found in undergrowth around two miles from his home. Gardai believe he was killed at the scene. More than 100 statements were taken and over 300 lines of enquiry followed, but Mr Desmond's murder remains unsolved.

"His phone deactivated on May 2 and we believe he was deceased prior to that," Det Insp Walsh told the court.

Asked if there were any threats to Mr Desmond's life, Det Insp Walsh replied "not that we are aware of".

The victim's identity was confirmed using fingerprint technology as a visual identification was not possible, the court heard.

The cause of death was a single gunshot wound to the back of the head from what is believed to have been a handgun.

No murder weapon has been found and the coroner appealed for anyone with information to come forward. The jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing by a person or person's unknown.

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