Sunday 16 June 2019

Body found in Wales in 1985 finally identified as Irish dad

Joseph Brendan Dowley (63) went missing in October 1985
Joseph Brendan Dowley (63) went missing in October 1985

Cate McCurry and Ian Begley

The remains of a man found 33 years ago on a Welsh beach have now been identified as a missing Irishman.

The body of Joseph Brendan Dowley, who was 63 and from Co Kilkenny, was found washed ashore at Rhosneigr, on Anglesey, by an RAF airman who was running on the beach on November 9, 1985.

Despite an extensive police investigation at the time, attempts to identify the man failed and a subsequent inquest returned an open verdict.

The death was not treated as suspicious and the man was subsequently interred in an unmarked grave in Menai Bridge Cemetery, on Anglesey.

An investigation by the Garda Missing Persons Bureau and North Wales Police led to the body being exhumed on June 19 this year.

At the time of the exhumation, the remains were believed to be those of Mr Dowley, who had been living in London and was last seen in October 1985 when he was driven to a ferry terminal by a relative.

It is understood that several surgical scars on the body matched those that Mr Dowley had.

Mr Dowley's son Alan had last year provided DNA to the Garda Missing Persons Bureau. At the time he told RTÉ's 'Prime Time': "I gave my DNA recently to Sergeant Richie Lynch in the Garda Missing Persons Bureau and I'm now waiting to see when the body in Wales might be exhumed for a DNA comparison to be carried out.

"I would encourage any other family of a missing person to give their DNA if they haven't done so yet. Each of these unidentified bodies is someone's loved one."

Detective Sargent Don Kenyon, of North Wales Police, who led the operation, said yesderday: "We have received a very positive result from the familial DNA analysis of the remains exhumed from Menai Bridge Cemetery.

"The DNA report has been sent to HM Coroner Mr Dewi Pritchard Jones, who has already been provided with a full file of evidence in relation to the case of missing person Joseph Brendan Dowley.

"Mr Dowley's family have been kept updated with this most recent development and Mr Pritchard Jones will now consider the entirety of the case to establish if there is sufficient evidence to make a formal identification."

The exhumation followed an investigation under Operation Orchid where detectives in Wales use the latest DNA technology to help identify human remains.

DS Kenyon added: "We combine the latest advances in DNA technology and traditional investigative methods to help conclude inquiries started years ago to help bring some closure to families who have lived with uncertainty for such a long time.

"Criminality is not suspected in any of the cases and the focus of the operation is simply to identify, reunite and allow the dignity of a funeral service for family and friends to pay their respects."

There are 600 unidentified bodies buried in UK cemeteries and 114 of these were recovered from along the western seaboard, which indicates some may be those of Irish people who drowned and were swept across the Irish Sea.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News