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Man sought over murder of homeless father was 'squatting in restaurant loft'

Gardaí uncover bizarre details about 'person of interest' in case

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Victim Frances Dunne was described as a ‘gentleman’

Victim Frances Dunne was described as a ‘gentleman’

Victim Frances Dunne was described as a ‘gentleman’

A man being sought for questioning over the brutal murder of a homeless father of three had recently been secretly living in a restaurant loft.

Gardaí have uncovered bizarre details of the lifestyle of the person being sought for questioning over the killing of Frances 'Frankie' Dunne (64).

Mr Dunne's headless body was found in the garden of a derelict house off Cork's Boreenmanna Road on December 28.

Gardaí have been trying to trace an Eastern European man who is believed to have been in Mr Dunne's company.

The man left Ireland in the hours after Mr Dunne's body was found, travelling from Cork to Belfast and then on to Edinburgh. He is then believed to have flown back to Eastern Europe.

Garda inquiries have now revealed that the man had been squatting in properties around Cork in late 2019 after he had a row with his boyfriend and was forced to move out.

Detectives have discovered that the man had been hiding in a loft over a restaurant which he had used as a temporary squat.

Staff at the restaurant were totally unaware the man had been living in the loft space at night. The man - who had been employed there - used holes in the ceiling to monitor movements around the property at night.

He was also aware of the position of various security cameras. CCTV footage showing him crawling around on the floor of the property in a bid to evade detection by the cameras has been seized by gardaí and was being studied.

The man had apparently tried to evade the cameras as part of a bid to steal around €1,000 which he then used to fund his travel back to Eastern Europe. Clothing, footwear and a knife recovered from the man's hiding spot in the loft are being examined.

The man has so far been described as "a person of interest" to detectives. Gardaí are expected to liaise with Interpol and Europol.

One theory being examined by gardaí is that Mr Dunne may have been attacked after a minor dispute over cash or alcohol escalated out of control. The father of three was described as "a gentleman" who was very quiet and best known for his love of singing.

Mr Dunne's body, which was also missing the arms, was discovered by a shocked neighbour in undergrowth of the garden at 4pm on December 28. The missing body parts were later recovered in the garden.

A Garda source said their investigation was "making substantial progress" with enormous support from member of the public. Mr Dunne's family said: "No one should be beaten or murdered because they find themselves helpless due to alcoholism or for any other reason."

Irish Independent