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Friday 20 July 2018

Mystery over body washed up on beach a decade ago finally solved

A 10-year mystery has been solved after DNA evidence showed that a body washed up on a beach in Louth in 2007 was the remains of a man who went missing from Dublin in 2006.

Joseph Reilly's body washed up on Rockmarshall beach
Joseph Reilly's body washed up on Rockmarshall beach
Joe Reilly was reported missing in 2006
Rockmarshall Beach in Louth (Image via Google Maps)

Sean Nolan and Sasha Brady

A 10-year mystery has been solved after DNA evidence identified that a body washed up on a beach in Louth in 2007 was the remains of a man who went missing from Dublin in 2006.

The body has now been identified as that of Joseph Reilly, who disappeared in December 2006, according to RTE.

Mr Reilly had been living on Hatch Street in the city when he vanished 11 years ago.

In June 2007, a body washed up on Rockmarshall Beach in Louth.

Joe Reilly was reported missing in 2006
Joe Reilly was reported missing in 2006

He was buried in Lordship in north Co Louth later that year.

The remains were buried in the local cemetery and the grave was tended by members of the community over the years.

A recent initiative by gardai to gather DNA samples from family members of missing persons and check them against unidentified remains is reported to have led to this breakthrough.

His brother Gabriel told RTÉ that he and another brother had given DNA samples this year:

"It has been a big shock for us all and something we had come to terms with because he had disappeared into being a mystery," Gabriel told RTÉ. "There is a little bit of relief, of course as well as the mystery is now solved.

"We get the chance to bring and end to the situation and bring Joe home, so to speak.

"We've been searching for 10 years without success. We didn't seem to have something to grasp on to."

Gabriel was also full of praise for the community who buried and tended to the remains of his brother.

"The local community in Lordship have been quite stunning in terms of what they have done.

"They virtually adopted Joe and have taken great care of him since then," he said.

Forensic Science Ireland has appealed for people to come forward.

Gabriel was asked to supply a DNA sample in May of this year and his brother was asked in July.

Forensic Science Ireland was subsequently able to compare their samples to the remains of their brother Joe's and the Reilly family received the news of a positive match in September.

Speaking to RTE Radio One this morning, Dr Dorothy Ramsbottom from Forensic Science Ireland, said that they can now work on samples that they previously couldn't work on before because of a major advancement in DNA technology.

"The main reason why we have identified Joe Reilly is because we were able to investigate and compare DNA samples from siblings," she said.

"DNA samples were taken at the time he was found but the technology hadn't advanced to the possibility of making a match.

"We were able to generate a profile back in 2007 but it wasn't until the end of 2015 that our National DNA Database commenced.

"We put the profile from the unidentified remains up on the database, had it stored and had it compared against the profiles we were comparing against missing persons.

Ireland is one of the last countries in Europe to put a National DNA Database in place.

It can also be used in the investigation of crime by currently holding about 11,000 samples from suspects, crime scenes and people convicted of serious crimes.

However, the most positive aspect of the tool is retaining and comparing samples from missing persons.

"We're increasing the number every year," said Dr Ramsbottom.

"This week we're appealing for families of missing persons to come forward and give us their reference samples."

Families have been assured that the data will only be retained to compare against missing persons' DNA and for no other purpose.

Those who wish to submit a sample can contact their local garda station.

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