| 10.2°C Dublin

Search of park for the remains of butchered rapist may take weeks


Gardai at the scene of the dig

Gardai at the scene of the dig

Gardai at the scene of the dig

Gardai are continuing to search an area of a North Dublin park for the dismembered remains of a convicted rapist who disappeared six years ago.

Hoarding has been placed around the site in the Tolka Valley Park in Finglas, where James Nolan (46) is believed to be buried.

Last December, the Herald exclusively revealed that gardai were due to begin searching the park for the remains. Fresh investigations got under way after gardai saw a 21-page letter written by Nolan's killer, who subsequently took his own life.

Gardai believe Nolan, from Finglas, was strangled to death by his killer - who was known to him - in Glasnevin Cemetery, before his body was taken to an address in north Dublin and dismembered.

His arm washed up on Dollymount Strand in 2011, but the whereabouts of the rest of his remains were unknown.

After dismembering the body, it is believed the killer then disposed of most of Nolan's body parts in Co Monaghan and at Tolka Valley Park.

The area where gardai have been searching is at a steep bank alongside the Tolka River.

Searches of the area began on Saturday morning and officers have informed the victim's family.

A source said gardai identified the "area of interest" after examining the contents of the letter.

An inquest previously heard that the rapist's arm was found by a man walking his dog in Dollymount on February 8, 2011.


State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy said that Nolan's arm was "cleanly" severed post-death using a very sharp knife and tattoos had been cut from the skin.

He was identified using a DNA sample taken from the arm which matched a DNA profile that was on a UK police database.

Nolan had been arrested at Holyhead in 2004, when he was found using a forged driving licence. Details and DNA were taken at the time.

The photograph and fingerprints were also cross-referenced with the garda database.

Nolan's last known whereabouts was collecting methadone from the Wellmount Clinic in Finglas on November 30, 2010.

He disappeared shortly after his release from Portlaoise Prison, having served a three-year sentence there for burglary in Booterstown, south Dublin, in 2005.

In 1986 he was jailed for 14 years after he was convicted of rape and false imprisonment.

The 1986 attack is considered one of the most violent to have ever happened in Ireland and the victim was brutally attacked in front of her partner.

That rape incident is being probed as a possible motive for Nolan's gruesome murder, even though his suspected killer was not present on the night of that attack.