Irish News

Thursday 21 August 2014

Tragic Robert McHale's devastated family believe 'suspicious' cause of death

Caitlin McBride

Published 31/03/2014 | 08:09

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A picture of Jiaxing, near where Robert was staying

The family of Irishman Robert McHale, who was found dead in China, have spoken of their devastation at his drowning.

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While Robert's parents Georgina and Vincent, from Moycullen, Co Galway, have flown to Shanghai to formally identify their son's body, his brother Oisin believes his brother's death may have been 'suspicious'.

Robert (23), had been teaching English in Jiaxing, just outside China's second city for the past six months and was due to return home to Ireland within days of his tragic death.

His body was discovered on Saturday and he was missing for nearly a week, according to his co-workers, who launched a massive search party for him over six days.

The circumstances around his death are still unclear. However, his brother Oisin believes it's 'incredibly unlikely' Robert took his own life.

"It is the circumstances in which his apartment was left, with the tv on, laptop on, passport, money, phone, iPod, his bag and all his clothes left behind - that are what make it most suspicious," Oisin wrote on his Facebook account.

"It's also incredibly unlikely that he wanted to commit suicide. In fact, his last message to me was very excited about a new story he was writing," he added.

His aunt Siobhan O'Reilly also took to social media to express her devastation at the family's loss.

"Happy Mother's Day to my mum and all mothers, especially my sister Georgina, whose heart has been broken today," she said on Twitter. "We are all just devastated."

A Chinese news outlet published graphic images yesterday of what is believed to be Mr McHale's body floating in a river. They have yet to be confirmed.

Oisin has also taken to additional public forums, appealing for help in piecing together his brother's death.

"He did have an incident in some pub a while back where he may have been scammed into buying drinks for a table or something," he added.

"He didn't want to pay but I believe he was pretty much forced to afterwards. I'm a bit hazy on the details, it happened a while back. Don't think it's related especially as we don't think he even went down to the local bars that night."

The General Consulate in Shanghai is providing assistance to the McHale family and friends of his in China have refused to cooperate further with authorities until his parents arrival later today.

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