Wednesday 29 January 2020

Family plea in dismemberment murder

Appeal: Noel and Mark Burke, father and son of murder victim Mark Burke. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Appeal: Noel and Mark Burke, father and son of murder victim Mark Burke. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Mark Burke

Jim Cusack

The family of Dun Laoghaire murder-dismemberment victim Mark Burke are asking people to try and remember where they were and what they saw in the town on a very hot summer day two years ago.

Mr Burke (36) suffered from depression and was an alcoholic in very poor health. He had no criminal associations and avoided drugs of any kind, his family say. The reason for his gruesome murder remains a mystery.

He was last seen alive after leaving Dun Laoghaire Courthouse, where he appeared on minor charges including fare evasion on the Luas, on Monday, July 28, 2014, one of the hottest days in years.

It is believed he was ­murdered later that day by someone who then apparently tried to conceal his identity by removing the face, teeth and hands. The killer also cut open and disembowelled the body before placing the remaining parts in bins.

Just over half Mr Burke's remains were found after the first of his dismembered body parts turned up at Thornton's recycling plant in west Dublin from July 31 onwards two days after he was last seen, the inquest into his death heard last Wednesday.

Evidence was also given about another mysterious aspect of the murder by ­pathologist Dr Michael ­Curtis. He gave evidence that "glacial acetic acid", effectively concentrated vinegar, was poured over the body parts before they were left in bins.

Mark's father, Noel, has appealed to anyone who was in or around Dun Laoghaire during what was one of the hottest days in the summer of 2014 to think back and "try and remember anything that could help the guards and his family know what happened to Mark".

Mr Burke asked particularly if anyone noticed or knew anything about the pungent substance that was poured over the body possibly, Mr Burke believes, to destroy any DNA from the murderer. The acetic acid used has a very strong smell.

It is not known if gardai have traced the source of the acetic acid. It can only be bought or sold under licence as it can cause skin burns.

Mark Burke suffered a complete breakdown seven years before his death, stopped talking to family and friends and eventually moved away from his partner and seven children. He lived mainly in hostels but often slept rough.

Mark's son, also Mark (17) told the Sunday Independent: "I hope they find the killer or killers of my father. Anyone who has any information, I hope they come forward."

His uncle and Mark's younger brother, Noel, said: "Mark was a great brother to us growing up. He was just a great guy and everybody loved him but he suffered very badly from depression. He was never into drugs and he wouldn't know anyone involved in drugs or crime in a big way. All he ever drank was cans of beer. He was very weak and vulnerable and he was always being picked on. He was in and out of hospital all the time."

Noel estimated that at the time of his death his brother, although six feet two inches tall, probably weighed less than eight stone. Mark had also lost an estimated 70pc of his liver function. He had suffered two severe assaults on each occasion needing pins inserted in fractures in his skull. He was eventually identified after his family reported him missing and doctors were able to identify the surgical work on his skull.

Mr Burke said: "There's a very disturbed individual out there who's a danger. Whoever it is, they need to be in prison."

Gardai are officially describing Mark's murder as a 'suspicious death'. No arrests have been made in the case.

Sunday Independent

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