herald

Wednesday 28 June 2017

Killers 'hacked up victim in sheer panic' as leg and internal organs are found in mountain searches

Where the body parts were discovered
Where the body parts were discovered

A leg and internal organs have been recovered as part of a large-scale search for the remains of a young man who was hacked to death, before being cut up and dumped, possibly in a moment of "sheer panic".

Over the weekend human body parts, including a partial torso, were discovered in two locations within a 20km area in the Wicklow Mountains.

Following the discovery of the partial torso on Saturday evening, internal organs and another part of the torso were discovered on Sunday. Yesterday, a leg was found close to this site by the Garda Water Unit at Glenmacanass waterfall.

A back bone was later discovered by Defence Forces personnel at Lough Brea Lower on Military Road.

The Herald can reveal the gruesome torso find was made by a Dublin family enjoying a day out in the picturesque area on Saturday evening.

While investigators are confident the male victim was murdered before being dismembered and his remains scattered, a gangland hit is unlikely because of the frenzied nature of the dismemberment.

"This was not a professional job," a senior source told the Herald last night.

One theory being examined by investigators is that the victim may have been murdered and disposed of by a person or people "in sheer panic".

Mutilated

"The partial torso located on Saturday evening was located in a bag and there was no effort made to conceal it, given where it was found.

"The same can be said for the second crime scene around 15km away.

Garda divers search water in the hunt for further body parts of the mountain victim. Photo: Collins
Garda divers search water in the hunt for further body parts of the mountain victim. Photo: Collins

"There is a lot of work to do to determine what happened but in the initial stages, it can't be ruled out that this killing and the attempts to cut and dispose of the body were done in sheer panic, and not by experienced killers," the source said.

Gardai have confirmed that the body parts recovered belong to the same person.

Although the individual has not yet been identified, investigators believe that they belong to a male aged in his mid-20s.

A murder investigation is expected to be launched by detectives at Bray Garda Station.

Detectives are also trawling through the missing persons database as part of their probe but so far this has failed to yield results which may determine the identity of the victim.

A massive search operation has been undertaken over the last three days as officers attempt to find more remains.

Speaking yesterday afternoon, Supt Pat Ward appealed for anyone who may be missing a loved one to contact gardai.

"We're checking our missing person's database but have not yet found a match. If there is anybody out there who has loved ones missing, we'd like to hear from them, please report it to the gardai," Supt Ward said.

"The post mortem indicates the person died possibly in the last week or maybe a little while before that. So it's not one of the historic cases, as they are known, in relation to people missing in the Wicklow Mountains."

Gardai believe that the remains were recently left at the two crime scenes and that the killing took place within the last 10 days.

Identification

Members of the Garda Technical Bureau and Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis carried out examinations of the scene on Sunday and Monday.

The recovered remains were then taken to the Mater Hospital where an X-ray was carried out to assist with the identification process.

They have since been taken to the pathology department in Whitehall for further examination. The post-mortem examination has also been completed and investigators are awaiting DNA results to assist with their inquiries.

More than 100 gardai and Defence Force members are currently searching along a 30km area in the Wicklow Mountains National Park between the Featherbeds and Laragh.

Members of the Garda Water Unit and Dog Unit are also involved in the operation.

The site where the torso was found is located about 1km from the Glencree Peace and Reconciliation Centre on the Dublin side.

The area is popular with cyclists and hill walkers and gardai are appealing for witnesses who may have seen anything suspicious in the last few weeks.

The first discovery was made by walkers on Old Military Road at 7.45pm on Saturday evening.

The family returned from a hike to discover that their car had been broken into.

As they searched the area for their belongings, they made the grim discovery. The theft is not linked to the investigation into the human remains.

Gardai have appealed for anyone who may have seen anything suspicious or has information in relation to the investigation to call Bray Garda Station on 01-666 5300, the Garda Confidential Line 1800-666-111 or any Garda Station.

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