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Tuesday 17 January 2017

DNA tests to be carried out on body parts found in canal

Gardai have to date followed over 300 lines of inquiry during their murder investigation

Robin Schiller and Conor Feehan

Published 25/01/2016 | 06:49

Garda at the scene, inset, Kenneth O'Brien
Garda at the scene, inset, Kenneth O'Brien
Gardai seal off the Grand Canal in Sallins Co. Kildare upstream from where possible human remains were found. Picture; Gerry Mooney
Garda divers search the scene in the Grand canal west of Sallins in Co. Kildare where it is believed human remains were found in the water. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Garda divers search the scene in the Grand canal west of Sallins in Co. Kildare where it is believed human remains were found in the water. Photo: Gerry Mooney
A Garda protects the scene on the Grand canal in Clondalkin where possible body parts were found last night.
A Garda protects the scene on the Grand canal in Clondalkin where possible body parts were found last night. Picture; GERRY MOONEY
The scene on the Grand canal in Clondalkin where possible body parts were found last night. Picture; GERRY MOONEY
The scene on the Grand canal in Clondalkin where possible body parts were found last night
Grim find: Members of the gardai inspect the suitcase containing the torso of Kenneth O'Brien which was found in the Grand Canal in Ardclough, Co Kildare Photo: Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

Body parts recovered in the Kenneth O’Brien murder investigation were discovered by a shocked member of the public along the Grand Canal.

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Gardai were called yesterday evening after a person out walking near the Digby Bridge in Sallins, Co Kildare noticed a bag in the water.

The member of the public pulled the bag towards the bank and immediately notified gardai after realising its contents.

Detectives preserved the scene and members of the Garda Water Unit conducted searches of the canal, recovering more evidence this morning.

The scene on the Grand canal in Clondalkin where possible body parts were found last night. Picture; GERRY MOONEY
The scene on the Grand canal in Clondalkin where possible body parts were found last night. Picture; GERRY MOONEY

“They (member of the public) were out using facilities and noticed a bag. They brought the bag to the canal side and they reported it to us yesterday evening and we dispatched the technical team to the scene and they immediately initiated a preservation of the scene for evidence. This morning the Water Unit carried out further searches. They were able to find further evidence for us,” said Supt Gerry Wall of Leixlip garda station.

“All of that has been taken to the mortuary at Naas and that will take a little time of us to assess the importance of that information. They managed to see this and bring it across it’s exact depth I’m not able to tell you. Suffice to say they acted with public interest in mind and brought this suspicious package to the side,” he added.

A separate part of the canal was also sealed-off near the Fonthill area of Clondalkin west Dublin. However, Supt Gerry Wall of Leixlip garda station said that no further information was currently available on what was recovered from the water.

Tonight, there are DNA tests being carried out on the body parts discovered in the canal.

The scene on the Grand canal in Clondalkin where possible body parts were found last night
The scene on the Grand canal in Clondalkin where possible body parts were found last night

It is hoped that if the DNA tests positively identify Mr O'Brien, there may be a breakthrough on how the JCB driver was murdered.

Supt Wall also outlined how gardai have to date followed over 300 lines of inquiry during their murder investigation, and continued to appeal for anyone with information to come forward.

“A further site of interest to us is along the Maynooth Road, the walkway between Leixlip and Maynooth, it’s a tarmac walkway. For landmark purposes it is opposite the entrance of Carton Estate.

“There is a third site, I just have no appeal information on that at the present time. Again I want to re-iterate appeal. The family have asked me to say to you they want to say their thanks to the public and the press in the manner which they have reported this most gruesome murder. You can understand they are in bereavement and they are helping us in anyway possible with our inquiries.

Chief Supt Barry McPolin of the Kildare Division said that he was very satisfied with progress of the investigation so far.

“We have a very large number of detectives from Kildare division supported by both national and regional units working hand in hand and it is our speed and determination to bring the perpetrators of this brutal murder to justice and before the courts.

“We will treat every iota of information that we receive with the strictest of confidence. We are conscious of that fact and maybe that they have some comprehension that they’re may be some difficulty in that respect. They can be assured that we will treat it so sensitively and comprehensively going forward.

Meanwhile , Supt Wall said the family of Mr O'Brien is enduring a very stressful time.

READ MORE: Serial killer is suspect in torso probe 

Mr O'Brien was reported missing on Friday January 15, a few weeks after returning from Australia, and his dismembered torso was found the following day.

Supt Wall said: “The family are very stressed. They are enduring a very serious, stressful time in their lives that no one would wish on anyone.”

“They’ve lost a loved one.”

"You can understand they are in bereavement and they are helping us in anyway possible with our inquiries," he said.

Chief Supt Barry McPolin of the Kildare Division said that he was very satisfied with progress of the investigation so far.

“We have a very large number of detectives from Kildare division supported by both national and regional units working hand in hand and it is our speed and determination to bring the perpetrators of this brutal murder to justice and before the courts.

“We will treat every iota of information that we receive with the strictest of confidence. We are conscious of that fact and maybe that they have some comprehension that they’re may be some difficulty in that respect. They can be assured that we will treat it so sensitively and comprehensively going forward."

Before he was killed, Kenneth O’Brien had told his family that he was taking a trip to the country. Gardai say information from members of the public has been key so far in helping them in their investigation.

Gardai said "potential evidential items" had been found in different locations along the canal.

"These items need to be forensically examined before any definitive conclusions can be made in respect of their evidential value," the Garda press office said.

The partial remains of Mr O'Brien (33) were discovered on January 16 in the Grand Canal near Ardclough, Co Kildare.

One theory being looked at by gardai is that the father of one became involved with criminals he grew up in west Dublin.

A source there explained how O'Brien was persuaded by the organised crime outfit to hand over cash sums to fund their drug-dealing network with the promise of a prosperous return on his investment.

"It appears this gang persuaded him to part with big cash sums on the promise of a return on his investment. This may have worked out once or twice before but something went wrong along the way this time," a source said.

"Kenneth was not a gangster. He wasn't into drugs or violence, but he was taken advantage of by people who grew up around him and knew he was making money in Australia," they added.

"He got into something he thought he could handle. He thought it was the quickest way to turn a profit on his money and provide for his family's future, but something went wrong somewhere," they said.

Another source revealed how a line of inquiry being "strongly" looked at by gardai is that the victim was betrayed by someone he trusted on the day he disappeared.

READ MORE: Garda probe whether Kenneth O'Brien was fourth victim of gangland serial killer  

"One thing that is becoming apparent is that Kenneth O'Brien was meeting with a person he felt he could trust, and did not believe his life to be at risk," a source said.

"Unfortunately it seems there was a double-cross of sorts and he was basically betrayed by this person, who may have either given up his location to his killers or even driven him directly to them for a meeting' that ended in his death," the source added.

Gardai have continued searching the area of Ardclough since last Saturday, when Mr O'Brien's partial remains were discovered.

Investigating detectives attached to the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (NBCI) also discovered €50,000 worth of ecstasy tablets in a farmyard, which sources said may be connected to the murder gang. No arrests have been made in the case.

READ MORE: Suitcase murder victim Kenneth O'Brien 'was killed by gang over missing drug money'  

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