Thursday 14 December 2017

Strangled student 'knew his killer'

Garda at the scene on a body find believed to that of Adrian Folan at a quarry just a few hundred meters from the Cliffs of Moher. Picture Noel Gavin/Press 22
Garda at the scene on a body find believed to that of Adrian Folan at a quarry just a few hundred meters from the Cliffs of Moher. Picture Noel Gavin/Press 22
Adrian Folan
House in An Cheathru Rua (Carraroe) Co. Galway that has been sealed off by Gardai in connection with a missing man, Adrian Folan, who was last seen in Athlone. Photo:Andrew Downes

Tom Brady, Mark O'Regan and Brian McDonald

A mature student, whose body was found buried under a pile of rocks in a quarry after he had been strangled, knew his killer.

Gardai discovered the body of Adrian Folan (41) yesterday, three days after he had been reported missing.

Last night another man in his 40s was being questioned about the killing.

Gardai awaited the results of a post-mortem examination carried out by State Pathologist, Professor Marie Cassidy to confirm he had died from strangulation before officially launching a murder investigation.

His body was discovered by gardai yesterday morning in water at a quarry at the Cliffs of Moher, near the village of Liscannor, Co Clare.

The grim find was made under a makeshift mound of about 50 rocks in a shallow pond.

It is not yet clear whether Mr Folan, a computer programmer, was murdered at the quarry or killed elsewhere and his body then taken there to be buried.

But gardai believe he was strangled within 24 hours of his disappearance.

There were no initial signs that he had been beaten or that a weapon had been used by his killer.

Officers said last night they had made significant progress with their inquiries, which led to the discovery of the body.

Mr Folan was a postgraduate student and was completing a masters of science degree in software engineering at Athlone Institute of Technology.

The course is run in co-operation with telecommunications multinational Ericsson and ICT Ireland, which funds the programme.

Described by friends as very talented and extremely bright, he had previously graduated with a first-class honours degree in commerce from NUI Galway.

Mr Folan is originally from the Carraroe area of south Connemara. He worked part-time during his student days in a Galway city pub. He had moved to Athlone last autumn to take up a one-year postgraduate programme.

"It's an extremely competitive course and there's a lot of interest in it," a college source explained.

"It's a full-time programme and when students successfully complete it, they are given permanent employment."

Mr Folan was last seen in Athlone on Thursday night.

Gardai were alerted when he failed to turn up at the college on Friday morning and concerns about his welfare grew throughout the weekend.

Mr Folan was a friend of MEP Luke Ming Flanagan who last week appealed for people to help find him.

Gardai arrested the suspect, who was well-known to Mr Folan, in the Connemara area early yesterday morning.

He was being held for questioning last night at Mill Street garda station under section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984, and can be detained without charge for 24 hours, excluding rest periods.

The man's detention was suspended for some time, shortly after his arrest, while the suspect underwent a medical examination.

His period of detention was extended by a garda chief superintendent last night.

A house in Carraroe, Co Galway, was sealed off for forensic examination while a detailed check of the quarry was also carried out.

The garda underwater unit is being called in today to make further inquiries.

Meanwhile, the body was removed yesterday afternoon to the Mid Western regional hospital in Limerick for the post-mortem examination by Prof Cassidy.

The body was initially identified from documentation in his clothing and later officially confirmed by a family member.

The search of the quarry was launched as a result of information gathered by gardai over the previous 24 hours and officers focused their search around the quarry from dawn.

Gardai also searched a dumping area on the Headford Road, outside Galway city.

Last night gardai appealed to anybody who might have spotted suspicious activity around the quarry since July 3 or who might have information about Mr Folan's disappearance, to contact the investigation headquarters at Ennistymon station, on 065 7072180, or phone the confidential line, 1800 666111.

Irish Independent

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