Murder victim was beaten up and then set on fire
GARDAI have launched a murder investigation after discovering that a man, whose badly burnt body was found in Dublin's Phoenix Park, had earlier been badly beaten up.
A post-mortem examination has confirmed that he had been seriously assaulted about the head before being set on fire.
Last night gardai appealed for help in identifying the victim, who was burnt beyond recognition.
Investigating officers say they will probably have to depend on DNA or dental records to establish the identity.
A garda patrol spotted the fire near the Wellington monument at about 1am yesterday and discovered the man lying in a sleeping bag, which was ablaze.
Dublin Fire Brigade personnel fought to quench the fire quickly but were unable to save his life. A small paraffin heater was discovered nearby and was taken away for forensic examination by specialists from the garda technical bureau at Phoenix Park.
The area was sealed off and a tent erected over the body, pending the arrival of state pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy.
An initial examination found a number of marks on the man's body but it was thought that he had died as a result of injuries sustained in the blaze.
But Dr Cassidy's examination last night established he had been subjected to a vicious attack before the fire and senior officers immediately launched a murder inquiry.
Garda press officer Supt Dave Taylor said last night that the man's age and nationality were not yet known because of the intensity of the fire and he appealed to any member of the public who may have witnessed any "unusual or suspicious activity" around Wellington Road between 4pm on Thursday and 1am yesterday, to contact the incident room at Cabra garda station.
He also asked members of the public, who might have a friend, relative or associate that had not been seen for 24 hours, to make contact.
Officers said the victim appeared to be well kept and did not look like he might have been homeless or had "lived a hard life".
They were trying to determine if the man had been attacked and then placed in the sleeping bag and set on fire to make it appear he was homeless and the victim of an accidental blaze.
Inquiries are also being carried out to establish if he was assaulted at the scene or had been attacked elsewhere and his body then dumped underneath the trees at Wellington Road.
Gardai said information that could help their inquiries should be passed on to Cabra garda station on 01 6667400, or on the confidential telephone line 1800 666111.
Tom Brady and Cormac McQuinn