Saturday 27 December 2014

Tragic student's family may have to wait weeks to get body home

Published 08/02/2014 | 02:30

Flowers left at the scene.
Flowers left at the scene.
The last known picture of business student Patrick Halpin.

THE family of Patrick Halpin who died tragically during a college trip to London may have to wait weeks before they can bring his body back home.

Patrick's sister Regina and father Paddy travelled home from London to Kilnadeema, Co Galway, last night where his mother Elsie was being comforted by family and friends.

His family thanked everyone for their support after the 18-year-old's body was found. In a touching tribute, Regina tweeted a quote from composer Irving Berlin, reading simply; "Your song has ended, but the melody lingers on."

Patrick's body was discovered on a rooftop just 90 feet from where he was last seen on Thursday evening.

Mystery surrounds how he came to be on the roof. CCTV footage shows him climbing up a metal staircase which leads to a locked metal door. It is surrounded by security netting to prevent access to the roof of the Chiquitos restaurant.

It is not clear how he accessed the roof. Four cameras monitor the lane which is accessed by six back doors from restaurants and nightclubs.

His family will return to London early next week where they will get the opportunity to see Patrick's remains.

The Irish community in London are also planning a mass for Patrick next week.

SHOCK

Local parish priest Fr Joseph Clarke said the family and entire Kilnadeema community had been left reeling. It was all the more tragic because the family had been told earlier – incorrectly – that he had been found safe and well at the airport.

"The whole community is in shock but they are trying as best they can to rally around the family. His mother is just devastated, there have been a good deal of neighbours with her," he said.

"We don't know when Patrick's remains will get home," said Fr Clarke.

"The latest word is the family won't be able to see him until Tuesday. They will go back then. They haven't been able to make any arrangements yet, they are afraid it might be weeks before he is released to them," he added.

Describing Patrick as deeply embedded in his local community, Fr Clarke added: "He was very involved in games, very intelligent and a diligent student. He was involved in the choir, the drama club, all kinds of sports, he took part in everything."

Patrick's home club of Kilnadeema-Leitrim will contest the All-Ireland Intermediate Final against Kilkenny club Rower Inistioge in Croke Park on Saturday.

A manager at the club Des Roache said Patrick's death had cast a dark shadow.

"We were all so worried for Patrick and when we got the news he had been found everyone was so relieved. But we've gone from low to high to low again. People are just grief-stricken and in shock.

"The whole community had been looking forward to Saturday's game. It has to go ahead because it's in Croke Park and we've been told we have to play but we've cancelled four juvenile matches which were planned as a mark of respect."

DCU actuary student Patrick was on a trip to London with the university's drama society when he went missing on Tuesday night after leaving Zoo Bar in Leicester Square.

His sister and father had travelled to London on Thursday to take part in the search. They were elated on Thursday when news surfaced that he had turned up at the airport after rejoining the travelling group.

However, hopes were cruelly dashed when that turned out to be an error after an airport official informed police he had checked in for a flight home.

Shortly after, police searching for the young man found a body and sealed off an enclosed area near the Burger King and Zoo Bar where Patrick was last seen.

Caroline Crawford and Shane Hickey

Irish Independent

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