Irish News

Saturday 26 July 2014

Mummified remains found in Dublin house by scrap metal hunter

John Byrne had been missing for four years

Gareth Naughton

Published 10/03/2014|12:59

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THE mummified body of a man who had been missing for more than four years was found in a derelict house by a scrap metal hunter, an inquest heard.

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The body of John Byrne (42), a father of one from Ballygall Road West in Finglas, Dublin 11, was found crouched behind a chest of drawers at the house on the Royal Canal Bank in Phibsboro, Dublin 7, on July 23 last year.

He was reported missing in February 2009 after family members were unable to contact him. A lottery ticket found in his pocket indicated that Mr Byrne died in or around Valentine’s Day that year.

Dublin Coroner’s Court heard from his son Darren Feehan that the last time he saw him was February 7, 2009. They had a "regular conversation" and hugged when he left, he said. Mr Byrne was living between his sister’s house and the DePaul Trust at the time. Mr Feehan said it was not unusual not hear from his father for two to three days but never longer than that. The family reported him missing after becoming concerned when nobody had heard from him for a week and his phone was powered off.

The body was found by Gary Hand, who had gone into the derelict house scavenging for copper. In his deposition read out in court he told gardaí that two kids showed him the house and as he searched it he thought he saw a haversack behind a chest of drawers. He "yanked" it out and discovered that it was a dead body collapsed forward.

“I saw the back of its skull as I lifted it upright. The two young fellas were terrified, as I was, and I left the derelict immediately,” he said.

Mr Hand said that he was terrified by the experience so did not call the gardaí until the next day following a sleepless night.

The body was identified using dental records. The postmortem was carried out by deputy state pathologist Dr Michael Curtis, however, due to mummification a full autopsy was not possible and he was unable to establish a cause of death. Coroner Dr Brian Farrell told the family that Dr Curtis did not find any obvious signs of blunt force trauma. Gardaí confirmed that there are no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death.

Dr Farrell said that while there was no evidence of third party involvement, he did not have a cause of death so he was returning an open verdict.

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