Body 'moved to second car'
Post-mortem reveals victim died from shotgun blast to chest
Published 24/06/2010 | 05:00
The body of murdered Dublin woman Helen Donegan was moved between the boots of two cars before it was found by gardai, it emerged last night.
Gardai now believe the 30-year-old woman was shot dead shortly after she went missing from her rented home in St Patrick's Park, Celbridge, in north Co Kildare on May 6.
A post-mortem examination by state pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy confirmed she died from a single shotgun blast to the chest.
Ms Donegan was reported missing to gardai on May 17, 11 days after her disappearance.
Later that day, gardai recovered a shotgun, which they now believe was used in her murder.
Forensic tests were being carried out by experts to establish if it was the murder weapon.
Inquiries indicate that shortly after the mother of a 12-year-old son was murdered, her body was placed in the boot of a blue Seat estate car. The car was then parked in the driveway of a house before being returned to its original location.
Detectives think the body was then transferred to the boot of a 02D silver grey Saab estate, where it was found by gardai around 5pm on Tuesday.
Gardai had been searching a rented garage at Kilmactalway, Aylmer Road, Newcastle, Co Dublin, when they became suspicious about the boot of the Saab.
The badly decomposed body has not yet been officially identified and gardai will be depending on DNA evidence and dental records to confirm that it is the remains of Ms Donegan.
She is originally from Ballyfermot but had been living in the house in Celbridge since September.
Her family in Ballyfermot and in Co Clare were immediately notified of the discovery of the body and were kept fully briefed by gardai yesterday.
Meanwhile, a 45-year-old man, who was arrested by gardai on Tuesday night, was still being questioned last night at Clondalkin garda station.
He is being held under section 50 of the Criminal Justice Act, 2007, and can be detained without charge for up to seven days.
Gardai will have to apply to the district court for permission this evening if they want to extend the suspect's period of detention.
They have issued an appeal to anybody with information about suspicious activity around Ms Donegan's home or the garage where the body was found to contact them on 01-6667600.
Last night, neighbours were shocked as the details of her death emerged.
It is understood her car had been attacked in the weeks before her disappearance in early May. One neighbour said the windows on the vehicle had been smashed in, after which Ms Donegan had run out on to the street.
However, she was also said to have kept a low profile during the nine months that she lived in the area.
Some neighbours said they recognised her from walking in and out of her Celbridge home, but few had spoken to her.
In Celbridge village, a short distance from St Patrick's Park, few had realised the extent of what had happened.
"No one knew her, in fact many people didn't even know she had gone missing. That is what happens when you are relatively new in a small town," said a man in the local church.