independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Man sorry for hiding body of drug victim in shower

A MAN admitted to gardai that he put a family of a missing man through "three weeks of hell" by not telling them his body was in his apartment all the time.

At Ennis Circuit Court yesterday, Sgt Catriona Houlihan said the badly decomposed remains of Frankie Hassett (25) were found in the shower area of an apartment rented by Bernard Flaherty, of 3 Lifford Lodge, Lifford, Ennis, on July 3, 2011.

Sgt Houlihan said that Mr Hassett's body could only be identified through dental records and a tattoo on his body.

Flaherty had concealed the body for 19 days before breaking down in a garda interview and admitting it was in his shower wrapped in plastic.

Flaherty has pleaded guilty to knowingly making a false statement to gardai on June 24, 2011.

Mr Hassett died in Flaherty's apartment on June 14 after the pair had taken prescription drugs.

Michael Collins BL, for Flaherty, said he did not tell gardai Mr Hassett's remains were in his apartment because he feared he would be blamed for his death.

In his statement, Flaherty said he lay crying beside Mr Hassett's body, not knowing what to do. He believed the only way out was to take his own life.

Mr Hassett's family reported him missing on June 20, and Sgt Houlihan said gardai mounted a search.

The sergeant said 40 people were interviewed, 17 statements taken and 50 hours of CCTV footage studied in an investigation that involved 14 gardai and cost 837 garda hours before the grim discovery of Mr Hassett's body.

Sgt Houlihan said Flaherty was confirmed as the last person to have been with Mr Hassett on June 14.

She said: "Mr Hassett's brother, Ian, and his uncle went to Mr Flaherty on June 21 and pleaded with him for any information on Mr Hassett, and Bernard Flaherty told them he hadn't seen Frankie Hassett after 8.10pm on June 14.

"When Frankie was found and the family were told they wouldn't be able to identify him, they were naturally distraught.

"They were robbed of an opportunity to say goodbye to their son and brother."

Sgt Houlihan said that when gardai first spoke with Flaherty "he seemed genuinely concerned for Frankie Hassett".

Smell

She said gardai interviewed Flaherty on June 24 and, arising from inconsistencies in his statement, he was interviewed again on July 3 when he broke down and admitted Mr Hassett's body was in his shower.

Sgt Houlihan said officers reported a strong and unpleasant smell as they approached the door of the apartment before finding the remains.

In his statement, Flaherty said Mr Hassett stayed at his apartment for one night. He discovered him to be blue and cold the following morning and placed him in the shower under cold water in an attempt to revive him.

In his statement, he said he wanted to apologise to the Hassetts, adding: "I could have stopped the family going through three weeks of hell."

Sgt Houlihan said Flaherty had 27 previous convictions.

Judge Carroll Moran ad-journed sentencing to next February to allow a psychiatric report to be drawn up.

Irish Independent

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