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UK experts try to solve mystery of severed arm

THE severed limb washed up on a Dublin beach which has baffled experts is en route to a specialist laboratory in England.

The limb, a male right arm with the hand expertly removed, is being sent to a state-of-the-art forensic complex in the north of England in a bid to give gardai here some clues to its origin.

Sources involved in the investigation say that the new forensic examination may be able to provide a genetic profile of the man.

"This forensic facility apparently will be able, in time, to establish the country of origin of the man involved," a source said.

"They will also be able to pinpoint the age of the victim and even establish his dietary habits. Anything will help because, to date, we have drawn a blank."

The garda investigation has literally trawled the East coast fishing ports since the limb was discovered on February 8 last -- but without any clues to the identity.

The cutting off of the the limb from the shoulder itself was "quite crude" according to garda sources. But other "surgery" was expertly done.

The hand was severed in a clinical fashion, as was the removal of a tattoo from the right arm.



Vital

The removal of the tattoo and the vital fingerprints suggests that great efforts were made to ensure that identification of the victim would be very difficult.

The discovery was made by a man out walking his dog on the Northside beach, but it could have had its origins anywhere -- Wales, the Isle of Man, here in Ireland or a passing ship.

State pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy's examination 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 jurisdictions -- as well as hospitals and missing person files -- have been checked in the search for clues but the investigation is at a standstill.

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

Detectives on the Northside are mindful of a scenario in relation to the body of Latvian Igors Bondarenko (35), which was discovered at the Middle Pier in Howth, Co Dublin on October 4, 2006.

It was initially believed to be a suicide but a second investigation found that he had been choked and thrown overboard by three fellow nationals.

They were later convicted of charges of manslaughter and aiding and abetting.

It was initially believed that he had taken his own life by tying his legs together and weighing himself down with chains and an anchor.

Deputy State pathologist Michael Curtis had told the Coroner's Court that third-party involvement in the death could not be ruled out.

The "Dollymount arm" case is being compared to the grisly discovery of the infamous "body in the suitcase" ten years ago.

In that instance, the body of murdered Romanian man Adrian Bestead (21)was dumped in a suitcase in the Royal Canal in July 2001. It was eventually identified after a public appeal.

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