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Mystery of the files that were stolen and burnt

The legal files on the Molloy case have had an extraordinarily turbulent life. They have even fallen prey to fire and theft.

In 1987, Dublin criminal Martin Cahill stole 145 files from the DPP's office -- but only one caught his eye.

The country's most notorious gangster was gripped by the Molloy file.

He eventually gave into the State's requests and returned the file but not before he had made 20 copies.

DPP files on individual criminal cases are not public documents -- unlike inquest reports carried out by a coroner.

In recent weeks, the Irish Independent and the Molloy family approached the Offaly coroner, Brian Mahon, who conducted Fr Molloy's inquest and asked for a copy of his file.

Mr Mahon was unable to meet this request because it was destroyed in a fire.

He said his office was broken into in 1990. A fire was lit in one room and among the material destroyed was his file on Fr Molloy.

Luckily, the fire was contained to the one room and did not damage the rest of the property.

Mr Mahon also said that the State Pathologist's office was unable to locate their file on Fr Molloy.

Last week, Mr Mahon requested a copy of his inquest report from Tullamore Courthouse on behalf of the Molloy family.

When the priest's nephew Bill Maher went to review that report in Mr Mahon's office, he was told that it contained photographic material that was too sensitive for him to see.

The Courts Service of Ireland and the Department of Justice have confirmed that the contents of an inquest report can be made available to any Irish citizen.

The family are still waiting to see the file, in the hope that it might shed more light on their uncle's brutal death. Mr Mahon has agreed to show them the photographs next week.

Irish Independent