Major murder probe sparked by gruesome discovery in the canal
It was a couple of walkers who made the grim discovery of a dismembered torso in the Grand Canal on Saturday afternoon, sparking a major murder investigation.
The remains were identified yesterday as those of Kenneth O'Brien, a 33-year-old father-of-one who had only recently returned to Ireland after working in Australia.
Mr O'Brien, a JCB driver from Leland Road in Clondalkin, Dublin, was last seen by his family on Friday morning when he told them he was going down the country to do some work. When they hadn't heard from him and were unable to contact him, they became worried and reported him missing to gardaí on Saturday evening.
Just hours earlier, two walkers spotted a suitcase floating in the Grand Canal at Ardclough, Co Kildare. When they discovered a torso inside they immediately alerted gardaí. The torso had been wrapped in plastic before it was hidden in the suitcase and dumped in the water.
Garda divers spent the following days trawling the canal for further evidence, while Kildare gardaí combed adjoining land and along the canal banks. Meanwhile investigators pored over the missing persons list in a bid to identify the victim.
Initially, gardaí had little to go on. It was feared that the remains were those of Barry Corcoran (39), who has been missing from Wicklow since last July when he told friends he was travelling to Dublin to meet a man in Ballyfermot.
However, he was quickly ruled out as the victim.
A post-mortem carried out by Dr Michael Curtis on Sunday revealed the victim to be a young man, possibly aged in his 20s, and with dark hair.
Gardaí issued an appeal for anyone who used the canal between last Thursday and Saturday to come forward and they received a large number of calls.
Investigators believe the victim was either shot in the head or had been subjected to a brutal beating elsewhere, before being dumped in the canal.
But without a murder scene, the investigation was severely hampered. Finding where the victim was killed became the focus.
On Monday, gardaí urged people returning to their property or business premises following the weekend to check if there was anything unusual and if any rooms or equipment had been disturbed.
The breakthrough came yesterday morning when a DNA sample taken from the torso matched a sample provided by his family.
Gardaí are now continuing their hunt for the murder scene and the brutal killer.