Saturday 17 March 2018

Comment: Shadow of death looms over Wicklow landscape on doorstep of capital

Members of the Garda Underwater Unit at the Glenmacnass waterfall in the Wicklow Mountains yesterday. Photo: Collins Dublin
Members of the Garda Underwater Unit at the Glenmacnass waterfall in the Wicklow Mountains yesterday. Photo: Collins Dublin
Cathal McMahon

Cathal McMahon

The Wicklow Mountains are an incredible vista on the doorstep of our capital city. The small winding roads, the dense foliage and vast terrains give it an other-worldly feel despite being only a short drive from the sprawling metropolis of Dublin.

This unique landscape has also combined to make the area a favourite burial ground among murderers.

And since 1925 a startling number of young women have been found dead in the area.

Names like Antoinette Smith - a young mother of two - who was murdered after attending the David Bowie concert in Slane in 1987. Her body was discovered a year later dumped in a drain by a turf-cutters' road outside Enniskerry.

Phyllis Murphy was murdered in 1979 but it took some 20 years before gardaí would track down her killer, John Crerar, using advances in DNA.

And more recently Marioara Rostas - a Roma girl (18) who was kidnapped off the street, repeatedly raped and murdered before she was buried in a shallow grave in the Wicklow mountains, to be discovered some 1,500 days later.

Each case shows new levels of depravity and violence.

Given the gruesome history you could forgive gardaí and emergency workers in the area for feeling a little detached from this latest perverse episode. But this week senior officers have described their horror and personal anguish at the depraved act that has taken place.

What now appears to have happened is that a young woman was brutally murdered at an unknown location.

Her body was then chopped up by one or more people and this was then driven along Military Road, right in the heart of the Wicklow Mountains, where at intervals parts were discarded unceremoniously in grass, forest and water.

Last Saturday, a family returning from a picnic made the first chilling find. Frustrated that their car had been broken into, a crime that is in no way connected to the murder, the young family went searching the area for their stolen items.

Instead they located part of a torso.

More members of the public made the second find a day later.

Yesterday, the most significant discovery was made.

A head and hands were discovered wrapped inside a plastic bag. The find was made approximately 3km from Glenmacnass waterfall, around lunch time.

There can be little doubt that advances in technology and Garda practice have helped detectives to bring this result around so fast.

This shows that dedicated police work, and a willingness to pursue an investigation to the end, even if it does sometimes lead you the wrong direction, can bring about faster results.

However, this will be little comfort to her family, or indeed to the many other families whose beloved relatives have been murdered in the Wicklow Mountains.

Irish Independent

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