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Gardai left baffled after severed arm found on the beach

A GRISLY find on a Dublin beach is proving more baffling than the infamous "body in the suitcase" probe ten years ago.

This time there is no body -- only a severed right arm that washed ashore at Dollymount Beach on February 8 last.

The Herald understands that the right hand had been expertly cut from the limb -- and there are no fingerprints.

The expert severing has raised concerns that body may not be that of a suicide, but instead a murder victim.

However following examination by the State pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy identification remains a mystery.

And gardai are comparing the case to the notorious "body in the suitcase" crime ten years ago. In that instance the body of a murdered Romanian man was dumped in a suitcase in the Royal Canal. It was eventually identified after a public appeal.

But five weeks on there has been no breakthrough in the most recent case. It appears that every effort had been made to thwart identification.

A tattoo, which could have helped the investigation, has been expertly removed.

Ship

The location of the find -- washed up on the Northside beach -- poses more questions that it answers. It was found by a man out walking his dog.

But no one knows if it had its origins in Wales, the Isle of Man, or even Ringsend.

"It could have been washed up from anywhere or thrown overboard from a ship," a source said. Prof Cassidy's examination has established that the limb may have been in the water for about three weeks before it was discovered on February 8.

Police forces in the North, and several other jurisdiction have been alerted but the investigation is at a standstill.

No other body parts have been washed up on Irish or British shorelines.

The case was revisited by gardai this week but no new developments were reported. "It is not even clear if there has been a murder. But people have been thinking back to the body in the suitcase," the source added.

Hospitals and mortuaries have been checked and officers have trawled through missing persons files.

Beating

The "body in the suitcase" story horrified Dublin in 2001.

In July 2001 a Romanian man was murdered and his body was found dumped in a suitcase in Dublin's Royal Canal.

Adrian Bestead (21) was killed on or about July 8, 2001. It emerged that his girlfriend claimed he had been violent to her and she wanted others to give him a beating. But they went too far. A number of successful prosecutions followed.

cmallon@herald.ie