Sunday 23 October 2016

Dismembered body parts covered in acid before being dumped

Mark Burke’s father Noel Burke Snr and brother Noel Jnr outside the Coroner’s Court (Collins Dublin)
Mark Burke’s father Noel Burke Snr and brother Noel Jnr outside the Coroner’s Court (Collins Dublin)

The mother of a man whose body was dismembered and covered in acid before it was found in a recycling plant has appealed for anyone with information to come forward.

Bernadette O'Byrne made her appeal after an inquest into the death of her son Mark Burke (36) heard of the harrowing circumstances surrounding the discovery of his body.

The remains of Mark, of Moreen Park, Sandyford, Dublin, were found at Thornton's Recycling Plant in Ballyfermot, Dublin, on July 31, 2014.

Dublin Coroner's Court was told Mr Burke had been sleeping rough for several months before his remains were discovered by a staff member at the rubbish plant.

An inquest into his death heard new evidence that his body had been dismembered by a "fine" tool before being disposed of in a rubbish bin.

Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis said the body had been treated with glacial acetic acid, a vinegar-like substance.

"Maybe somebody could have had the misconception that they could have dissolved the body," Dr Curtis told the court.

Speaking to the Herald, his grieving mother Bernadette O'Byrne appealed for anybody with information to come forward.

"I just want someone to be caught for this. What they done to my son they enjoyed," Ms O'Byrne told the Herald.

"Parts of my son's body weren't found. I want them caught... it could happen to your child.

"I want people to please come forward, there is a reward for a conviction. He never once brought trouble to my door."

Garda Robert Keogh told the inquest that on Sunday, July 27, 2014 he arrested Mr Burke on foot of bench warrants and took him to Dun Laoghaire Garda Station.

He appeared before the court the next day and left at 2.30pm. This is the last known sighting of Mr Burke.

Gda Keogh said he had no concerns for his safety.

He added that Mr Burke seemed in "reasonably good spirits" and indicated that he was living rough at the time.

On Wednesday, July 31, employee Dinas Plenpa arrived for work at Thornton's Recycling Plant for his night shift.

In a statement to court, he said that at around 11.10pm he spotted a dismembered leg below the knee and later a foot roll down the conveyor belt.

He informed his supervisor of the horrific discovery and the belt was immediately stopped.

Mr Plenpa added that he did not touch the body parts and that he didn't see any weapons.

Garda Sergeant John Coughlan said investigators searched the site for three days and found a part of an upper leg and bone fragments.

Detective Inspector Colm O'Malley said gardai are treating the death as suspicious and the investigation remains open.

Thornton's Environmental manager David Duff said that waste is tipped into a shed and is then inspected by a yard martial for large items like gas cylinders.


Mr Duff said that he believed the yard martial would have noticed if a complete corpse had been tipped into the yard.

Dr Michael Curtis said that he visited the site and between 55pc and 60pc of the body had been recovered.

He said analysis of bone fragments showed they had been dismembered by a fine tool, suggesting this was carried out before arriving at the yard.

Dr Curtis said the face, teeth, hands or internal organs were not found, which made positive identification very difficult.

Dr Curtis added he has seen many industrial accidents over his careers and there was always clothing present, which was "totally absent" in this case.

Coroner Dr Brian Farrell said an open verdict is the only option in this case.

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