Monday 18 November 2019

Metal hunter tells inquest of shock find of mummified body

Darren Feehan was looking for his dad John Byrne
Darren Feehan was looking for his dad John Byrne

Gareth Naughton

THE mummified body of a man who had been missing for more than four years was found in a derelict house by a scrap metal hunter, an inquest heard.

The body of John Byrne (42), a father of one from Ballygall Road West in Finglas, Dublin 11, was found crouched behind a chest of drawers at the house.

He was reported missing in February 2009 after family members were unable to contact him.

A lottery ticket found in his pocket indicated that Mr Byrne died around St Valentine's Day that year.


Dublin Coroner's Court heard from his son Darren Feehan that the last time he saw him was February 7, 2009.

They had a "regular conversation" and hugged when he left, he said.

Mr Byrne was living between his sister's house and the DePaul Trust at the time.

Mr Feehan said it was not unusual to not hear from his father for two to three days but never longer.

The family reported him missing after becoming concerned when nobody had heard from him for a week and his phone was powered off.

The body was found by Gary Hand, who had gone scavenging for copper in the derelict house on the Royal Canal Bank in Phibsboro, Dublin 7, on July 23 last year.

In his deposition read out in court he told gardai that two children showed him the house, and as he searched it he thought he saw a haversack behind a chest of drawers. He "yanked" it out and discovered that it was a dead body collapsed forward.

"I saw the back of its skull as I lifted it upright. The two young fellas were terrified, as I was, and I left immediately," he said.

Mr Hand said that he was so afraid by the experience he did not call the gardai until the next day following a sleepless night.

The body was identified using dental records. The postmortem was carried out by Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis. However, due to mummification a full postmortem was not possible.

Coroner Dr Brian Farrell told the family that Dr Curtis did not find any obvious signs of blunt force trauma.

Gardai confirmed that there are no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death.

Dr Farrell said that while there was no evidence of third party involvement, he did not have a cause of death so he was returning an open verdict.

Irish Independent

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