Thursday 22 February 2018

Inquest recalls the 1973 killing of a young boy that shocked nation

John Horgan (7) was found tied to rafters in attic of neighbour's house

Louise Hogan and Georgina O'Halloran

THE death of a young boy found tied to the rafters in a neighbour's attic amid bizarre religious symbols stunned the country nearly four decades ago.

Even at this remove, the details of the death of John Horgan (7) still have the power to disturb.

Evidence of the discovery of the boy's body in 1973 was heard in unusual circumstances at the Dublin County Coroner's Court yesterday.

County Coroner Kieran Geraghty took the step to briefly open an inquest and recount the details of the tragedy after his office was notified that a death certificate had never been issued.

It is a legal requirement that every death is recorded and registered with the State.

The young boy was found in the attic of a house adjacent to his family's home at Hollyville, Lucan Road, Palmerstown, Dublin, on June 14, 1973.

Detective Inspector Richard McDonnell, from Lucan garda station, contacted the Horgan family after he was requested in February of this year to prepare an inquest file for the issuing of the death certificate.

"I contacted the family of John Horgan who indicated they did not wish to revisit a very traumatic period in their lives and reopen old wounds," Detective McDonnell said yesterday.

The Horgan family was not present at the brief inquest.

The young boy went missing at around 4pm on June 14, 1973. He was discovered after midnight the same night tied to the rafters in the attic of a neighbouring house.

A silver cup with three hosts was also discovered in the attic where his body was found, a priest present at the time recalled.

The Irish Independent of September 14, 1973, reported that a 16-year-old Palmerstown boy attended Dunshaughlin District Court where he was kept in custody and returned for trial at the Central Criminal Court for the murder of John Horgan.

Detective McDonnell said yesterday a male was subsequently charged with the crime and served a custodial sentence.

Dr Geraghty said the person was living outside the jurisdiction.

He said it would not be appropriate to hear the inquest in full without a request by the family and they did not want it.

Then state pathologist Dr Maurice Hickey found the boy had died from a fracture of the skull. He also received damage to the brain from a severe blunt force injury to the back of the head.

It is understood that the death certificate will now be issued.

Irish Independent

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