independent

Monday 24 April 2017

Mystery man's last surprise

Despite having never been able to identify the body of the man found on the beach, gardai meticulously built up a detailed sequence of his movements around Sligo from the time he arrived on a bus from Derry to when he went to Rosses Point three days later.

It appears the man went to great efforts to ensure no one could trace him, with the inquest into his death hearing how it is believed he was discarding his personal effects when he repeatedly left and returned to the Sligo City Hotel where he was staying.

It has also emerged that on the day before his body was found, the man visited Rosses Point, having earlier approached a taxi driver and asked where there was a nice quiet place to swim.

The next morning in the hotel, the man asked for a late checkout and, that afternoon, took a bus to Rosses Point.

Detective Inspector John O'Reilly, who was responsible for the investigation into this man's death, gave details of weather conditions at the time the body was discovered saying they were "pleasant."

The body that was discovered was that of a male, approximately 55-60 years of age that seemed to have been washed up on rocks on the first beach in Rosses Point. The man appeared to have gone swimming as he was wearing a navy t-shirt tucked into a pair of swimming trunks, with black underpants over the swimming togs.

A number of body samples were taken for the purpose of identifying the remains. Fingerprints were also taken.

Detective Inspector O'Reilly went on to give details of searches carried out subsequently on the beach.

During the course of one search, the following personal effects were recovered about 300 metres from the location of the body: shoes, socks, trousers, jumper, black leather jacket, packet of tissues, a sum of cash, sheets of blank paper, plasters, aspirin tablets, a wrist watch and soap from a hotel.

The inquest heard it was believed from footage viewed that the deceased had been staying at the Sligo City Hotel from June 12th to 15th.

From viewing CCTV footage, accounts of witnesses and various enquiries carried out, a sequence of events relating to the movements of the unidentified male was established.

He was captured on CCTV footage at Ulster Bus in Derry between 14:30 and 16:00. He spoke with a bus driver and asked him was he going to Sligo. The bus driver directed him to another bus, Galway Express, which was also going via Sligo. The bus driver recalled seeing the man with a black laptop bag. He stated that the man did not have an Irish accent and believed he might have been eastern European.

CCTV footage showed the deceased alighting from a bus that arrived at Sligo Station at 18:28 on June 12th. The man carried a black shoulder bag and a larger luggage bag.

A taxi driver conveyed the man to the Sligo City Hotel where he was quoted €65 per night for accommodation and paid in cash. He checked in giving the name Peter Bergmann with an address in Austria of Ainstettersn 15, 4472 Wien. The receptionist described him as having a deep German accent.

However, Detective Inspector O'Reilly told the inquest that there was no such person nor did that address exist.

The receptionist described the man as having a deep German accent.

The inquest heard how "Mr. Bergmann" left the hotel on numerous occasions during his stay, frequently with a purple bag that would appear half to three-quarters full and return without it. Detective Inspector O'Reilly said it is believed he was discarding his personal effects during these times.

On Saturday, June 13th 2009, at 10:49:01, the man entered the General Post Office, Wine Street, Sligo, and purchased eight 82-cent stamps and airmail stickers. The destination of the letters posted could not be established.

On Sunday, June 14th, between 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. the man left the Sligo City Hotel and approached a taxi driver and informed him he was from Austria.

The man asked the taxi driver where there was a nice quiet beach where he could swim. The taxi driver informed him that Rosses Pont would be the best place to go.

The taxi driver drove into the car park at Rosses Point and turned and went back toward Sligo. On the way back, the taxi driver showed "Mr. Bergmann" the location of the bus stop outside the hotel in Rosses Point. The taxi driver dropped the man at the bus station in Sligo.

On June 15th, the man checked out of the hotel, handing in his room key at 13:06. He left the hotel carrying a black shoulder bag, a purple plastic bag and a dark coloured carrier bag. He did not have a dark coloured luggage bag that he had when he arrived in Sligo.

He made his way toward the bus station via Quay Street, Wine Street and stopped at Quayside Shopping Centre and waited in a doorway for a number of minutes.

At 13:16 he left the Quayside Shopping Centre and walked along Wine Street in the direction of the bus station. He was still carrying the three bags.

At 13:38 he walked to the shop counter in the bus station and ordered a cappuccino and a ham and cheese toasted sandwich. He took this to a nearby seat.

While eating his food, he took out pieces of paper from his pocket numerous times, looked at it, folded it and put it back in. On one occasion, it appeared he tore the paper into pieces.

He subsequently got a bus that departed at 14:20 for Rosses Point.

Detective Inspector O'Reilly said there were 16 sightings of the deceased on the beach that day, including quite significant detail that was consistent with the clothing that was found.

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