Tuesday 20 February 2018

Teenager remanded on charge of murdering girl

An 18-year-old man appeared in court today charged with murdering a 12-year-old girl whose body was found dumped by a canal.

Jonathan Byrne, from Lohunda Downs in Clonsilla, west Dublin was detained on Saturday after the schoolgirl's body was found by an elderly man.

Detective Sergeant Dan Callaghan, of Blanchardstown Garda Station, told the court Byrne made no reply when he was charged by Sergeant Joe Delaney late last night.

He is accused of killing Michaela in the early hours of Saturday morning on Porterstown Road - between where the schoolgirl's body was recovered and her family home in a housing development called the Village.

Judge Patrick Clyne granted an application by defence solicitor Eugene Dunne for free legal aid.

He also requested that Byrne be given medical attention.

Byrne, who wore a grey coloured hoody, light blue jeans and white runners, did not speak during the brief hearing.

He waved to someone in the public gallery of the District Court as he was led away by prison officers.

The teenager was remanded in custody to Cloverhill Prison and will appear before Cloverhill District Court on Friday morning.

The partially-clothed body of 12-year-old Michaela Davis was discovered near the Royal Canal in west Dublin on Saturday afternoon, it is believed she was strangled.

A team of 80 officers is trying to piece together the final moments of the 12-year-old.

Although detectives were still waiting for the results of a post-mortem examination on the girl, it is suspected she was beaten and strangled.

Her bike was recovered by investigating officers who sealed off a large area spanning from Michaela's family home to the crime scene.

An elderly man spotted Michaela's remains in undergrowth on a steep bank between a commuter rail line and a path that runs along the canal.

A school friend who visited the scene said he was shocked when he heard Michaela was dead.

"She was sound. So funny," he said.

The victim had started secondary school at Luttrellstown Community College just two days before her tragic death.

The schoolgirl left her home in the Village development off the Porterstown Road in the Blanchardstown area just after midnight on Saturday morning, telling family members she would be back soon.

She was reported missing just over two hours later and her body found shortly before 4pm on Saturday.

Yesterday, Gardai carried out door-to-door inquiries while members of the water unit searched the canal for evidence which may have been dumped and 25 forensic officers examined the embankment.

"It's a wide area, it's a difficult area to search," said Supt John Gilligan.

"The area where the young girl was found was a heavily brambled or wooded area running alongside the canal and railway tracks so that takes a bit of time to search properly. We have to go into that delicately in order to make sure we find everything that we can possible find."

Counsellors and psychologists were on hand at the Luttrelstown school to help shocked pupils and teachers come to terms with the young girl's death.

Principal Fionnuala Ni Chaisil said a short service in memory of Michaela was held in the school at lunchtime.

"Everybody is nice and calm and we are helping everyone to be as it should be here in our own community. The children are our priority," she said.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Davis family."

Staff from the school met last night to put in place a critical incident management team and arrange for guidance counsellors and the Vocational Education Committee (VEC) psychological support unit to come to the school. Counselling sessions were held with pupils throughout the day.

Forensic teams remained at the scene around the canal searching hedgerows and surrounding land.

Several roads around the family home and the crime scene also continued to be sealed off.

Press Association

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