herald

Saturday 19 August 2017

Gardai turned away gran murder suspect

Man went to garda station but was turned away

A house searched by gardai in south Dublin
A house searched by gardai in south Dublin

A Dublin grandmother was buried in a shallow grave by her killer, who later panicked, dug up her body, dismembered it with a saw and scattered her remains in the Wicklow mountains.

The Herald can reveal that Patricia O'Connor (61) was struck on the head with an iron bar during a row in a house in Dublin up to two weeks ago.

She died from horrific head injuries before it is believed she was transported in the boot of a car to the Kilmuckridge area of Co Wexford, where her body was initially buried in a shallow grave.

Nine body parts have been found in recent days, including a head and arms in a plastic bag.

Last night, a 32-year-old suspect was still being quizzed by Bray detectives over the gruesome killing after his detention was extended by 12 hours. The man is a relative of Ms O'Connor.

Admissions

It has also emerged that this man presented himself to Rathfarnham Garda Station on Monday afternoon, where he made certain admissions in relation to the human remains found in the Wicklow mountains.

However, as gardai initially believed that the remains recovered were those of a young male they released the individual.

"What he was saying didn't correlate with what the investigation team knew at the time, so gardai had no reason to detain him," a source said.

When it was discovered on Tuesday afternoon that the dismembered body parts were from an adult female, Rathfarnham gardai contacted the murder suspect and met him by appointment that evening.

The suspect helped gardai with their inquiries and took investigating detectives to a scene in Co Wexford. He was subsequently arrested at this location at 7.30pm.

Gardai now believe that mother-of-two Ms O'Connor was killed at a property in Rathfarnham up to two weeks ago.

Her killer put her body into the boot of his car and then drove to Co Wexford where he buried her in a shallow grave.

However, less than 24 hours later the killer panicked and returned to the grave to dig up the body.

He then placed her ­remains in the car and left the area. At some stage the killer ­dismembered the grandmother's remains with a hacksaw.

After mutilating the body, he then scattered her remains in a 30km area across the Wicklow mountains.

Ms O'Connor was first reported missing on June 2 but at the time her disappearance was not considered suspicious.

Detectives are now searching for the weapons used in the heinous crime.

Up to 10 crime scenes have been set up in Rathfarnham, Co Dublin; Kilmuckridge, Co Wexford; a large area across the Wicklow mountains; and a location near the Hell Fire Club.

Ms O'Connor had a number of grandchildren and until recently had worked as a chef at Mount Carmel Hospital, Churchtown.

She had been living in Mountain View Park, Rathfarnham, on and off for several years. She shared the family home with her husband, daughter, son-in-law and five grandchildren, locals said. Neighbours said Ms O'Connor had lived in Kilkenny in previous years.

She originally left her Nutgrove home around 10 years ago but is understood to have returned in the last 12 months.

One neighbour described how the community was left horrified as news of her death emerged yesterday.

"Patricia was a lovely woman. She moved out of the area 10 years ago but returned around a year ago.

"She kept to herself but she would always say hello and goodbye. She was very polite."

More than 200 gardai and Defence Forces personnel were involved in the huge search operation over the last week.

Torso

Shortly after 1pm on Tuesday, a human head was found around 3km north of Glenmacnass Waterfall, where remains had previously been discovered.

Further body parts, including an arm, were located later in the afternoon.

A partial torso, a leg, a backbone and internal organs were recovered as part of the investigation. The initial discovery was made by walkers on Old Military Road at 7.45pm on Saturday.

Senior sources have praised the painstaking work carried out by the investigation team which led to the arrest.

"Officers have been working flat out on this case for the last few days and we got a lucky break when we identified a suspect," a source said.

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