Tuesday 20 November 2018

Litany of Garda appeals has met with no success

Despite €190,000 reward, no solution to case seems in sight, says Jim Cusack

Jim Cusack

EVERY year since the humid Friday night in September 1999 when Raonaid Murray died from multiple stab and slash wounds only yards from her Dublin home, the Garda issue an appeal for witnesses or announce the investigation is still "live". Every year there is no movement.

All they have really established about Raonaid's last moments is that someone, a man, stopped her in the laneway between Silchester Road and her home in Silchester Park, Glenageary. People sitting out in the back garden of a nearby house heard a girl's voice saying something they thought was "leave me alone" and "go away". They then heard a scream.

The first of several powerful stab wounds with a long-bladed knife had struck the 17-year-old. The lack of any further screaming probably resulted from her going into shock. Still, she managed to crawl and drag herself almost 30 yards towards her home. She was discovered, dead, some time later by her sister Sarah only 50 yards from their home.

In the major investigation that followed, gardai were never able to establish a motive or any reason for the murder.

Raonaid was universally liked. She had a bright, outgoing personality and a wide circle of friends. She had attended St Joseph of Cluny Secondary School in nearby Killiney and was waiting to repeat her Leaving Cert at the Institute of Education on Leeson Street. She had a summer job in Sally West boutique in Dun Laoghaire Shopping Centre and after work that evening had joined friends for a drink, just across George's Street in Scott's Bar.

From what can be established she left at 11.20pm, telling her friends she wanted to go home, change and get some money and would meet them later at Paparazzi's disco upstairs in the shopping centre. Her sister discovered her body at 12.20am.

Gardai say that more than 8,000 people have been interviewed and almost 3,000 statements taken in the murder investigation. There were 12 arrests.

Despite their annual appeals and a reward of €190,000 raised by family and friends in the local community, the case has never come close to being solved.

As each year passes, the gardai try their best to show they are still actively pursuing the case. Each annual appeal contains some new and some old facts. Last year, they again appealed for information about the young man she may have been seen arguing with in Corrig Avenue on the route from George's Street to Glenageary and not far from Dun Laoghaire Garda Station.

This young man became a central feature of the case, certainly from the point of view of the Garda-media concentration on him from the early stages. In 2007, eight years after the murder, the gardai forlornly asked if any one saw Raonaid arguing with a man described as around 25, 5 feet 10 inches tall, "good-looking" with a slim, athletic build and hair in "Oasis" style to come forward. No one did. The same appeal had been made four years earlier to no apparent avail.

The general appeals continue, such as: "As this was a particularly savage attack it is likely that a certain amount of blood was left on the culprit's clothes. Did anyone see such a person returning home on the night in question? They would like to speak to anybody that noticed anyone acting in a strange manner or out of character since this incident; anyone that is aware of any other remotely similar incident."

Four men who travelled out from the centre of Dublin by taxi and were let off at Monkstown, Glenageary and Dalkey around the time were also not traced.

One very early and promising lead also ran into the ground. A taxi-driver told of picking up a fare, a young man with blood on his trousers, in the early hours of that Saturday morning and taking him to Granville Road at the top of Newtownpark Avenue.

He dropped the man at a house there, but saw him acting strangely and felt he didn't go inside. House-to-house inquiries were carried out, but no one fitting the description lived in the avenue. Months later in the investigation, a suspect, a cook in his mid-20s, was found to have been living at the time on the other side of Newtownpark Avenue. But that line of investigation also ran into the sand. He was arrested and questioned, but there was no evidence.

At no stage did gardai issue an appeal for information about any dark-skinned men who may have been in Dun Laoghaire that night. The long-bladed knife was never found.

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