The body of a murdered criminal may have lain in storm-drenched bogland for up to a week before it was discovered, detectives believe.
The father-of-six, 47, had only been out of prison a few weeks when he was found dead next to a burnt out caravan he was living at outside the village of Clara, Co Offaly.
His body was discovered about six feet down a drain off the isolated Bog Road in Kilbride this morning during an organised search by gardai seeking his whereabouts.
The settled traveller, who came from a family of 11 brothers and sisters, was a known criminal and had only been released from prison on December 7 after serving half of a six-year sentence for false imprisonment.
It is understood gardai also investigated allegations relating to sexual abuse made against him. However he was never charged or convicted of any such offences.
A Garda source said: "He was well known in the area, as was his past and history. He would have picked up a number of enemies along the way."
Detectives expect to launch a full scale murder investigation as soon as the post mortem examination is completed by state pathologist Marie Cassidy at the Midland Regional Hospital, Tullamore .
While there were no immediately obvious signs of his injuries, investigators believe the man met a violent death.
The caravan he was was living on was burnt out along with two cars at the scene.
It is thought they may have been set ablaze on or around December 29. It is also believed the man may have been murdered at this time and his body remained in the bog drain - about 100 metres away - unnoticed during the recent wet and stormy weather.
Investigating gardai said a number of people had already come forward with valuable information and they were encouraging others with any information to do the same.