Sunday 24 September 2017

Convicted rapist had armed severed off post-death and tattoos removed - inquest hears

State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy gave evidence today
State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy gave evidence today

Gareth Naughton

A convicted rapist whose arm was found on a north Dublin beach was butchered with a sharp knife after his death.

The right arm of James Nolan (46) from Fairlawn Road in Finglas, Dublin 11 was found washed up on the beach at Dollymount Strand on February 8, 2011.

State pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy told Dublin Coroner’s Court the arm was "cleanly" severed post-death using a very sharp knife and tattoos had been cut from the skin to prevent his identification.

Nolan had been missing since shortly after he was released from Portlaoise Prison in November 2010 having served time for burglary. In 1986 he was jailed for 14 years when he was convicted of rape and false imprisonment.

The inquest heard the arm was found by a man walking his dog.

Detective Inspector Paul Scott said identification was confirmed using a DNA sample taken from the arm which matched a DNA profile on a UK police database. Nolan had been arrested at Holyhead in 2004 when he was found using a forged driving licence and a photograph, fingerprints and DNA were taken at the time. The photograph and fingerprints were also cross-referenced with the Garda database to confirm the identity.

Nolan’s last known whereabouts were when he collected methadone from the Wellmount Clinic in Finglas on November 30, 2010. The court heard he had been attending the pharmacy since November 23rd having been released from prison.

Prof Cassidy carried out the post-mortem at the Dublin City Mortuary in Marino. The arm had been dismembered at the shoulder and wrist. It had been “fairly cleanly cut”, she said, using a “very sharp implement”.

“A propeller can leave quite a clean mark on a body but they are usually longer. These were very carefully and deliberately going around the whole circumference of the limb. It was deliberately cut,” she said.

Two large sections of skin had been removed from the upper- and fore-arm with the cuts “cleanly excised”. Prof Cassidy said these appeared to be tattoos removed to prevent identification of the limb.

There was no evidence of any bleeding or blood loss into the tissues indicating that Nolan was dead when the cuts were made. The limb had been in the water for days “if not weeks”, said Prof Cassidy. She said she could not discount the possibility the arm had been in the water since Nolan went missing in November.

A toxicology screen identified cocaine, methadone and sleeping tablet Zopiclone in the tissues but the levels were unquantifiable, said Prof Cassidy, and no comment can be made regarding the effects of the drugs on Nolan.

While Nolan is dead, the inquest heard there is no cause of death and how he died has not been determined. The rest of his body has not been recovered. DI Scott said the Garda diving unit carried out an extensive search of the sea around Dollymount Strand but found nothing else. The investigation into his death remains open, he told the court.

The jury returned an open verdict.

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