Monday 17 December 2018

'Strong possibility' body due to be exhumed in Wales is that of Irish dad who disappeared 32 years ago

Brendan Dowley disappeared in October 1985.
Brendan Dowley disappeared in October 1985.
Kathy Armstrong

Kathy Armstrong

THERE is a "strong possibility" that a body that is set to be exhumed from a Welsh graveyard belongs to an Irish father who went missing 32 years ago, police have said.

Welsh police have said that the body could hold the answers about what happened following the mysterious disappearance of Joseph Brendon Dowley more than 30 years ago.

Mr Dowley (63) was working in London at the time and was last seen going to the ferry terminal in Dun Laoghaire in October 1985, following a trip home.

A man's body was discovered on the morning of November 5 1985 by an RAF airman along the shoreline of Rhosneigr beach.

Police made extensive inquiries at the time but could not identify the man, an inquest returned an open verdict, his death was not treated as suspicious and he was buried at Menai Bridge cemetery in Anglesey.

The body is set to be exhumed next Tuesday, June 19, and using the latest DNA technology police want to determine whether the remains are those of Mr Dowley.

Brendan Dowley aged 63 missing since October 1985. Picture: RTE Prime Time
Brendan Dowley aged 63 missing since October 1985. Picture: RTE Prime Time

DC Don Kenyon, who is leading the investigation, explained: “We combine the latest advances in DNA technology and traditional investigative methods to help conclude enquiries started years ago to help bring some closure to families who have lived with uncertainty for such a long time.

“Criminality is not suspected in any of the cases and the focus of the operation is simply to identify, reunite and allow the dignity of a funeral service for family and friends to pay their respects.”

It is understood that several surgical scars on the body match those that Mr Dowley had.

DC Kenyon added: “As a result of our investigations, and with the assistance of the Missing Person Bureau and the Gardaí in Ireland,  we now believe there is a strong possibility the remains are those of Joseph Brendon Dowley, a 63 year old Irish citizen living at the time in London. 

“Mr Dowley had been visiting family in Ireland in October 1985 and was last seen when he was driven to the ferry terminal by a relative.

“The purpose of the exhumation is to gain a DNA profile for comparison with the DNA of family members of Mr Dowley in Ireland who have been kept fully aware of developments.

“If the identity is confirmed by HM Coroner we hope to reunite Mr Dowley with his family as soon as possible to grant them the dignity and comfort of a full funeral service,’’ DC Kenyon said.

“I am also very conscious of the feelings of the families of all those buried in the cemetery and sensitivities in the surrounding community. I can assure all that due regard and respect will be paid during the process which we hope to have concluded by late afternoon.

“Our thoughts remain with Mr Dowley's family at this difficult time.’’

There are 600 unidentified bodies buried in UK cemeteries and 114 of these were recovered from along the western seaboard, which indicates some may be those of Irish people who drowned and were swept across the Irish Sea.

Mr Dowley's son Alan said last year that he hopes that advances in technology might help him to bring his father home and he is encouraging others not to give up hope.

Speaking on RTE's Prime Time, he said: “I gave my DNA recently to Sergeant Richie Lynch in the Garda Missing Persons Bureau and I’m now waiting to see when the body in Wales might be exhumed for a DNA comparison to be carried out.

“I would encourage any other family of a missing person to give their DNA if they haven’t done so yet. Each of these unidentified bodies is someone’s loved one”.

Anyone wishing to contact the Garda Missing Persons Bureau can do so at

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