Wednesday 28 September 2016

Acid was poured on body of homeless man, inquest told

Martin Grant

Published 07/04/2016 | 02:30

A HOMELESS man was dismembered and covered in acid before his body parts were discovered in a recycling plant, Dublin Coroner's Court heard.

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The remains of Mark Burke (36) were found at Thornton's Recycling Plant in Ballyfermot, Dublin, on July 31 2014.

Mr Burke , of Moreen Park, Sandyford, had been sleeping rough for several months before his remains were gruesomely discovered by a picker at the rubbish plant.

An inquest into his death heard new evidence that his body had been dismembered by a "fine" tool before being disposed of in a rubbish bin.

Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis said the body had been treated with an acidic chemical lighter than vinegar. "Maybe somebody could have had the misconception that they could have dissolved the body."

His mother Bernadette O'Byrne pleaded for information on his death. "I just want someone to be caught for this. What they did to my son ... they enjoyed Parts of my son's body weren't found. I want them caught. It could happen to your child.

"I want people to please come forward, there is a reward for a conviction. He never once brought trouble to my door."

Garda Robert Keogh told the inquest that on Sunday, July 27, he arrested Mr Burke on foot of bench warrants and took him to Dún Laoghaire Garda station.

He appeared before the court the next day and left at 2.30pm.

Gda Keogh added that Mr Burke seemed in "reasonably good spirits".

On Wednesday, July 31, Dinas Plenpa arrived at Thornton's Recycling Plant for his night shift. He said that at around 11.10pm he spotted a dismembered leg below the knee and later a foot roll down the conveyor belt. He informed his supervisor and the belt was immediately stopped.

Garda Sergeant John Coughlan said investigators searched the site for three days and found a part of an upper leg, and bone fragments. Detective Inspector Colm O'Malley said gardaí conducted an investigation and 585 statements had been taken. He added gardaí are treating the death as suspicious and the investigation remains open.

Thornton's Environmental manager David Duff said that waste is tipped into the shed and is then inspected for large items like gas cylinders.

Mr Duff said that he believed that if a complete corpse had been tipped into the yard, it would have been noticed.

Dr Michael Curtis said that he visited the site and between 55pc and 60pc of the body had been recovered.

He said analysis of bone fragments showed they had been dismembered by a fine tool, suggesting they were already cut before arriving at the yard.

Dr Curtis said the face, teeth, hands or internal organs were not discovered, which made positive identification very difficult. Dr Curtis added he has seen many industrial accidents over his career and there were always clothes present, which were "totally absent" here.

Coroner Dr Brian Farrell said that an open verdict is the only option in this case.

Irish Independent

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