Gardai try to identify body found in house gutted by fire
GARDAI were last night attempting to identify a body found in a derelict house that was gutted by fire.
Five units of Dublin Fire Brigade spent four hours fighting the flames at the house in the south Dublin suburb of Dalkey. It is thought the victim may have been sleeping rough inside the two-storey, detached house on Ulverton Road.
The building was completely gutted in the blaze and the roof caved in.
A garda forensic team spent yesterday afternoon sifting through the rubble inside the building before combing the overgrown garden at the front and back of the property.
Detective Inspector Eamon O'Reilly, leading the investigation, said they were still trying to determine the sex of the badly burned body, which was found by firefighters in a downstairs room.
"There's nothing definite yet. We're assuming it's a male, but apart from that we have absolutely nothing.
"It's possible the person was staying in the house on and off in the last few weeks because there was a sighting of someone in that area. It would appear to be a male between 40 and 50.
"But we don't know who we're talking about and there's going to be a difficulty with identification. It may come down to DNA eventually. It was a serious fire and there were only charred remains left."
He said he could not rule out the possibility the fire was started in suspicious circumstances and would be keeping an open mind until he saw a report from the forensics team. He added that gardai had made contact with the owner of the house.
The body remained in the building yesterday while Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis carried out his investigation. It was later removed to Loughlinstown Hospital for a post-mortem examination.
An elderly neighbour living next door said the house had been derelict for five years.
"It was a residential home," he said. "It was a fine house in the old days. But there hasn't been anything in there for some years -- all the furniture was removed by the fella who left it.
"It was bought during the good times when prices were very high. He bought it and had plans to build two houses there but he changed his mind and built nothing and it's been lying vacant there since."
The man said he had been kept up all night for fear the fire would spread to his own home.
The house came under the spotlight during a dispute between broadcaster Pat Kenny and neighbour Gerry Charlton.
Mr Charlton's son-in-law, Corry McMahon, a property agent, bought the property, which had a guide price of €1.6m, for €4.05m in 2006.
It is adjacent to the area that was under dispute and there was speculation it might be amalgamated with other adjoining land for development.