Thursday 14 December 2017

Agonising wait for families of missing

Forensics hold key to identity of body in the hills

Tom Brady and  Grainne Cunningham

THE skeletal remains found in the Dublin mountains at the weekend belong to a man who has been missing for less than a year.

The actual identity of the dead man has not yet been firmly established as gardai await the results of medical and forensic tests.

But officers have been keeping in close contact, since the remains were found, with the families of two young men, who disappeared within the past eight months.

Both young men were fathers and their families live in the Tallaght area of south Dublin. Their disappearances are not thought to have been connected.

Ken Fetherston (26), the father of a three-year-old girl, has been missing from his home since Tuesday, September 22.

He was last seen driving a red Honda civic at about 10.30am in the Knocklyon area.

Four days later his car was found on the N11 road at Gorey, Co Wexford. Drops of his blood were found in the boot of the vehicle.

Gardai have so far been unable to establish the circumstances behind his disappearance, but fear he may have been abducted.

Several searches have already been carried out in county Wicklow by gardai investigating his disappearance.

He is a member of a highly respected family but there are concerns that he could have fallen foul of local thugs.

Paul Byrne (21), a father of one, was last seen alive outside his home at Kilmartin Green in Tallaght on July 15.

It's believed that two men called to his home and he got into their car -- which was then driven out of the estate.

His mother Aisling later issued an appeal for help in finding him as she said she was extremely worried about his safety.

"He wouldn't do anything like this. It's just so out of character," she said.

Gardai are investigating local reports that some of his acquaintances had been involved in a gang that was in dispute with a rival group.

There are fears that he could have been singled out by the rivals because of his association with them although he was not involved in the row.

Some of those acquaintances had been interviewed by gardai in relation to a serious incident in the Tallaght area.

But gardai emphasised last night that they were investigating several lines of inquiry on the possible identity of the body and said these would all remain speculative until the tests had been completed.

A particular focus has been placed on Mr Fetherston and Mr Byrne because of the relatively close proximity of the spot where the remains were found, and their homes and the timing of their disappearances.

But family liaison officers in other missing persons cases in the greater Dublin area and county Kildare have been instructed to keep the relatives fully informed of developments in the Dublin mountains.

The remains were found by two walkers in an isolated area known as 'Viewing Point' on the Military Road running from Rathfarnham to the mountains, on Sunday afternoon.


A human skull and part of a torso were discovered and were taken away yesterday afternoon for further examination while the area was being combed for further clues to the identity of the dead man.

Clothing and footwear were also found nearby and were undergoing forensic checks last night.

A post-mortem was being carried out last night at Tallaght hospital by the assistant State Pathologist, Dr Michael Curtis, who has sought the assistance of forensic anthropologist, Dr Laureen Buckley.

The remains were said to have been in a state of total decomposition and the experts were relying on dental records, DNA and forensic tests to determine the identity of the man and establish how he had died.

The remains had been lying in a ditch and partially concealed by heavy grasses and the roots of fallen trees.

Officers have sealed off large sections of the roadside, opposite and adjacent to where the remains were found. Teams of searchers conducted methodical sweeps of the heather and grasses throughout the day.

Garda Supt John Gilligan appealed to anybody who used that stretch of the road in the past year and noticed any unusual or suspicious activity to contact them.

Irish Independent

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