Monday 20 January 2020

Person believed to have been with murdered homeless man day before his death has left Ireland

Murder victim Frankie Dunne
Murder victim Frankie Dunne
Crime scene: Castlegreine House, Co Cork, where Francis ‘Frankie’ Dunne’s remains were found. Photo: Daragh McSweeney

Ralph Riegel

A PERSON believed to have been in the company of murdered homeless man Francis 'Frankie' Dunne (64) on the day before his death left Ireland to travel to Eastern Europe.

The man, who is a person of interest to Gardaí, travelled from Cork to Belfast, onwards to the UK and then to Eastern Europe in the 36 hours after the discovery of Mr Dunne's headless body in the garden of a derelict house on Cork's Boreenmanna Road.

Mr Dunne's body, which was also missing the arms, was discovered by a shocked neighbour in undergrowth in the garden at 4pm last Saturday.

The missing body parts were later recovered in the garden.

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Crime scene: Castlegreine House, Co Cork, where Francis ‘Frankie’ Dunne’s remains were found. Photo: Daragh McSweeney
Crime scene: Castlegreine House, Co Cork, where Francis ‘Frankie’ Dunne’s remains were found. Photo: Daragh McSweeney

A man who is believed to have been with Mr Dunne on Friday, December 27 left Cork on December 29 and travelled to Northern Ireland.

The individual, who is originally from Eastern Europe, then travelled from Belfast to the UK.

They are understood to have then travelled onwards to Eastern Europe where they have friends and family.

Gardaí have not formally designated the man as a suspect.

However, one garda source said they are eager to speak with the man to clarify movements around the property where Mr Dunne's body was discovered.

CCTV security camera footage has played a major role in the garda investigation.

It is understood that the individual involved features on some of the CCTV security camera footage already harvested by gardaí.

The man had been working in Cork but moved out of his normal address late last year.

He is understood to have been squatting in a property off the Boreenmanna Road.

A garda source said they investigation was "making substantial progress" with enormous support from member of the public.

Detectives believe Mr Dunne was murdered after a savage beating inflicted sometime between December 27 and 28.

Gardai secured extra time to examine the crime scene with a painstaking forensic examination of the derelict house and its sprawling garden continuing.

One homeless charity has now publicly appealed to the killer or killers to hand themselves in to gardaí.

The remains of Mr Dunne are expected to be released back to his family within 48 hours.

Gardai launched a murder probe after receiving the results of a post mortem examination conducted at Cork University Hospital (CUH) by Locum State Pathologist Dr Heidi Okkers last Sunday.

It confirmed the frail homeless man had been subjected to a savage beating and severe trauma.

Mr Dunne's family has already pleaded for privacy and asked the media not to cover any aspect of his funeral.

Now, the extended Dunne family has launched a special GoFundMe page to honour Frankie and raise desperately needed finances for the Cork charities which had tried so hard to help him over the course of his life.

The campaign - dubbed the 'Honour of Francis 'Frankie' Dunne Appeal' - will see all its proceeds go to Cork Simon and Caring for Cork Homeless Group.

"Frankie was a father, a grandfather, a brother, uncle and nephew as well as a friend to many in Cork," a family statement said.

"He had succumbed to a life of alcohol dependence many years ago. He lost a lot in his life but he never lost his family's support or love.

"Every member of his family and large circle of friends at some point through the years have held him up, fed him or sometimes just sat and listened to his rambling chat or singing of rebel songs and just fall asleep.

"That was simply him - a kind gentleman but, yes, an alcoholic.

"He had another family that loved him too - that was his friends living in tents, homeless shelters or on the streets of his city, Cork.

"They were their own community of friends and comrades but without a front door of their own or even a mattress to lay down on at times.

"People (for) whom an empty, derelict house seemed like a safe place to have a few drinks, a sing-song and lay down out of the cold.

"As Frankie's family, we hope no one else has to suffer the horrendous nightmare of what Frankie endured in the final hours of his life. No one should be left so vulnerable on our streets.

"No one should be beaten or murdered because they find themselves helpless due to alcoholism or for any other reason.

"As a 'thank you' to the amazing work of the Cork Simon community, us as a family are hoping people will help us in our donation plea to the people who were Frankie's other family.

"Please give what you can - every penny counts. All the monies raised will go directly to the Cork Simon Community and Caring for Cork's Homeless Group."

The campaign aimed to raise €5,000 for the two charities - and, within 24 hours of it being launched, had raised almost €3,300 of its fundraising target thanks to donations from people horrified by what Mr Dunne had suffered and the plight of the homeless on Irish streets.

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