Tuesday 23 May 2017

Mystery of body in suitcase sends gardaí to ends of earth

Garda at the scene, inset, Kenneth O'Brien
Garda at the scene, inset, Kenneth O'Brien
Tom Brady

Tom Brady

Gardai investigating the murder of “torso in a suitcase” victim Kenneth O’Brien have sent two detectives to Australia to investigate his background there.

The two officers flew from Dublin to Perth yesterday to liaise with local police and carry out inquiries into Mr O’Brien’s life during the three years he spent there before returning home to west Dublin last month.

The move is part of the latest phase of the two-week-old investigation as gardai attempt to pin down a motive for his gruesome murder.

Officers have yet to locate where he was shot and his body dismembered, or find the weapon used in the attack.

But they are satisfied that he had fallen foul of a west Dublin based organised crime gang as a result of a financial deal that went wrong.

Since he was home only a month before he was shot dead, gardai think it is possible that he could have had contact with the criminals previously and may have been under threat when he was working in Australia.

Gardaí have already been examining a mobile phone and computer used by the 33-year-old victim but are hoping that inquiries on the ground will allow them to delve further into his background.

They will look at where he lived, worked and socialised over the three years and also hope to interview those, who were in regular contact with him then, to find out if anybody was aware of threats or warnings about his welfare.

The investigation team of more than 80 officers at the headquarters in Leixlip garda station is now focusing mainly on following up around 400 lines of inquiry after a fortnight in which the case took new twists and turns on almost a daily basis.

Bizarre

It has been a bizarre case that has gripped the public imagination and led to a huge response to garda appeals for help.

That response has been a big factor in several key breakthroughs in garda inquiries so far.

Senior officers hope that the public will continue to play a role in determining the location of the bloody murder scene.

The father of one left his home at Lealand Road in Clondalkin, west Dublin, at 7am on Friday, January 15, after telling his partner the previous night that he was travelling down the country for work.

His partner had already left the house in the family car and gardai think Mr O’Brien may have been collected by his killer by arrangement.

They are poring over footage from CCTV cameras in the area to trace Mr O’Brien’s movements after he left home and are again appealing to anybody, who saw him or noticed a vehicle being driven suspiciously, to contact them at Leixlip garda station – phone 01 6667800 or the confidential line, 1800 666111.

Mr O’Brien was shot in the head and his body dismembered over the next 24 hours.

Grim

The first grim discovery of his remains was made when two walkers along the Grand Canal at Ardclough, Co Kildare, retrieved a suitcase from the water and found the torso wrapped in heavy plastic.

That was at 3.30pm on Saturday, January 16, but other walkers were able to say the the suitcase had been in the water at least six hours earlier.

Gardaí had no indication at that stage that Mr O’Brien had any connection with a crime gang but further inquiries changed the initial thinking that the murder was linked to a personal grudge.

Further finds of bags in the Grand Canal at Sallins led to the recovery of the head and limbs while another bag containing a motorised component of the power tool used to dismember the body was retrieved from the Royal Canal at Carton, Maynooth.

Parts of the victims’ hands remain missing – and searches of the Grand Canal from the bridge at Sallins down to the aqueduct, where it crosses the river Liffey, have continued throughout the week.

In the meantime, detectives are sifting through a shortlist of criminals, who may end up at the centre of their investigation.

Online Editors

Promoted articles

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News