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Thursday 5 December 2019

Bodies found on lake island believed to be drug-debt pair

Paul Williams

Paul Williams

Gardai launched a double murder investigation after the discovery of two bodies on a lake island, believed to be those of missing men Eoin O'Connor and Anthony Keegan.

The decomposed remains were located by garda divers on Inchicup Island in Lough Sheelin on the Cavan-Meath border yesterday afternoon.

It is understood that the bodies had been hidden on the small island and covered over with a tarpaulin.

The discovery was made by garda divers taking part in a focused search of the island after receiving specific information on their whereabouts.

Gardai will have to await a post-mortem examination before they can confirm the identities and determine cause of death.

But detectives believe that Mr O'Connor (32) and Mr Keegan (33) were murdered when they went to collect a drug debt in Co Cavan on April 22.


It is understood that gardai have now established a list of suspects as a result of information gleaned from the men's associates, other intelligence sources and phone traffic analysis.

And senior sources last night confirmed that gardai would be carrying out a number of arrests.

Yesterday's breakthrough is the culmination of more than 20 search operations carried out by gardai, mostly in the vicinity of Lough Sheelin lake near Mount Nugent.

A source said that officers had received intelligence that the bodies were somewhere in the area, but because of its sheer size it was difficult to cover.

The men's families had reported them missing to gardai in Dublin the day after they headed to Cavan.

A short time later an anonymous 999 call to Monaghan garda station claimed that two bodies, including that of Mr O'Connor, had been dumped in a field near Kilnaleck.

It later emerged he had instructed a relative to give gardai the name of a suspected drug dealer he planned to visit in Ballyjamesduff if he failed to return.

On April 25 gardai recovered the Ford Focus car the two men had been driving, in a car park overlooking Lough Owel outside Mullingar.

It is understood that forensic experts found no evidence in the car to suggest that a violent attack had taken place. A mobile phone belonging to one of the men was also found in the car.

But gardai believe the car was parked there as a decoy.

The men, both of whom are from north Dublin, are believed to have been murdered on April 22 – the date when they were last seen alive. Gardai also believe that the disappearances are connected to the collection of a €15,000 drug debt in Co Cavan. It has been established that the men had "considerable interaction" with drug dealers in the south Cavan area in the weeks before they vanished.

Last month the Irish Independent revealed that gardai had talked to the suspected Dublin drug dealer named by Mr O'Connor before he vanished.

The man told officers he had been visited by them on Monday, April 21, and that they had returned to Dublin unharmed.

He has since left his home and garda sources say the man is "terrified" that he will be targeted by criminal associates of Mr O'Connor and Mr Deegan.

However, officers believe that he wasn't capable of carrying out the crime. It also emerged that the men had been in contact with a male foreign national before they disappeared.

The discovery of the bodies yesterday brings the gangland death toll so far this year to eight.

The investigation has been co-ordinated from Ballymun garda station under the command of Supt Paul Moran and Det Supt Jim McGowan. Officers from the Cavan/ Monaghan Division have also been giving assistance to their colleagues.

Gardai appealed for anyone with information, particularly those from the boating community on Sheelin or who may have been on the lough between April 22 and May 26 to contact Kells garda station or the confidential line on 1800 666 111.

Irish Independent

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