herald

Saturday 3 December 2016

Gardai investigate if body in suitcase victim was killed by someone who knew him well

The investigation continues into the gruesome murder of Kenneth O’Brien as gardai search his home at Lealand Road
The investigation continues into the gruesome murder of Kenneth O’Brien as gardai search his home at Lealand Road
The investigation continues into the gruesome murder of Kenneth O’Brien as gardai search his home at Lealand Road (Staff photographer)

Gardai are investigating if a man whose dismembered remains were found in a suitcase in the Grand Canal may have been murdered by a person who was well-known to him, it emerged last night.

Officers are still working on the theory that the brutal murder of Kenneth O'Brien may be linked to a personal grudge, rather than gangland activity.

The 33-year-old, originally from Ballyfermot in west Dublin, was last seen alive when he left his Clondalkin home on Friday morning.

Forensic gardai spent all day yesterday at the property at Lealand Road and they removed a number of items from the house.

Statement

Other officers spent the day taking statements from people who knew the tragic father-of-one.

Sources said yesterday that officers were desperately trying to build a "full picture" of Mr O'Brien's personality and relationships in an attempt to discover how he met such a grim fate.

"This involves taking statements off everyone who knew him and attempting to make contact with anyone who had been speaking with him in recent weeks.

"Everyone who knew Mr O'Brien will have to be looked at closely, that is the nature of this," they said.

"Gardai are not following a definite line of enquiry at this stage, but it is being investigated whether he may have been killed by someone who was well-known to him over a personal grudge."

Mr O'Brien was not known to officers for involvement in serious offences and his only convictions were for relatively minor driving offences a number of years ago.

Sources said that gardai were "unaware" of underworld reports that suggested he may have been targeted by a notorious Clondalkin-based gang over an historical debt.

Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan yesterday described the murder of Kenneth O'Brien as "gruesome".

Speaking in Dublin, the Garda chief offered the sympathies of the force to the O'Brien family.

"It's obviously a very gruesome murder," she said.

Ms O'Sullivan appealed for anybody who may have information, "no matter how small they might think", to come forward.

Perpetrator

"We're very anxious to hear from anybody who might have any information they can offer in helping us to identify the perpetrator of this awful crime," she said.

Officers were still not located Mr O'Brien's head, arms and legs last night and the cause of his death or its location have not yet been established.

The mutilated remains of the dad-of-one, who had only moved back to Dublin from Australia in December were taken from the canal at Ardclough, Co Kildare, on Saturday.

Yesterday two areas near where the body was discovered were sealed off by gardai who were searching for more body parts.

Mr O'Brien was identified at 3.30pm on Tuesday after a DNA sample taken from the torso matched a sample provided by a member of his family.

The mechanic and JCB driver was the father of a little boy. He vanished on Friday after telling his family he was heading down the country to do some work.

They reported him missing on Saturday evening, but by then his torso had been discovered by two walkers who saw a suitcase in the canal.

The murder investigation is being carried out by officers at Leixlip Garda Station, who continue to appeal for information.

It is expected that it will be a lengthy investigation which will involve the detailed analysis of mobile phone traffic in an attempt to establish who the victim had been communicating with.

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