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Monday 16 July 2018

Phones and CCTV key to garda investigation into Joanne Lee killing

Detectives probing body-in-wardrobe murder appeal for sightings of silver Nissan Micra

Tragic Joanne Lee (Inset: The entrance to the building in which her body was discovered in a wardrobe)
Tragic Joanne Lee (Inset: The entrance to the building in which her body was discovered in a wardrobe)
Joanne Lee
Joanne’s uncle John Curry breaks down while talking to the media. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

Mobile phones and CCTV footage will form a key plank of the Garda investigation into the murder of Joanne Lee as detectives attempt to retrace her steps to find her killer.

Her body was found in the wardrobe of a south Dublin bedsit at 3.45pm on Thursday, two days after she was reported missing by her estranged husband, Keith Lee, who gardai now want to question about the killing.

Gardai forced their way into the bedsit in Ranelagh two days after Lee reported her missing.

Detectives at Mountjoy garda station were directed to the bedsit after a silver Nissan Micra that Joanne often drove was seen parked outside the building.

Gardai are believed to have seized the car and returned to resume their inqu iries inside the building.

They tried to gain entry to the bedsit but discovered that Keith Lee had barricaded himself inside.

As they attempted to burst in, he jumped from a third-floor window breaking both ankles and then went on to inflect further injury to himself.

Gardai found Joanne's body, stuffed into the wardrobe, tightly wrapped in a sleeping bag and a blanket. They suspect that she had been strangled and that she may have been dead for several days.

Detectives are working on the theory that her killer may have been preparing to move her body when they burst into the bedsit.

The bedsit on Ranelagh Road was not rented by Keith Lee, according to sources. The usual occupant is understood to be abroad, with the keys to the property being passed to Lee.

Sources refused to confirm whether Joanne's mobile phone or any of her other belongings were recovered at the scene.

However, the devices used by Joanne and by her estranged husband will be crucial in establishing where she was and who she was in contact with in the days before she died.

Detectives are also looking at CCTV footage from the north inner city, where it is believed Joanne had been staying, and around the Grand Canal and Ranelagh for sightings of the car she used.

They are hoping to find out when it was parked outside the bedsit in which they believe she was murdered, and who left it there.

Gardai are keen to talk to Keith Lee, who is being treated at St James's Hospital for injuries that include two broken ankles and blood loss. It may be several days before he is well enough to be questioned over the murder.

Joanne was at her family home in Garristown when her family last saw her on February 5.

She had been staying with her parents in north county Dublin more frequently since she parted from Lee, her husband of many years. She came and went from the house and often travelled into town where she stayed in a flat on the North Strand in the north inner city.

She also stayed in touch with her husband, even though they were estranged. According to sources close to the investigation, the couple once lived in North Strand and socialised in the north inner city.

Joanne was a music fan and frequented pubs and clubs in the city centre, sometimes with Lee, who is believed to have worked in a hotel.

Joanne's family became concerned about her last week. They had not heard from her in a couple of days, and reported her missing to gardai on Tuesday.

Some hours later, Keith Lee also reported her missing at Store Street garda station.

The next day, gardai issued an appeal and a photograph of the attractive blonde woman in a fur-trimmed jacket.

Hours after Joanne's body was discovered, her uncle John Curry was among the shocked friends that gathered outside the imposing house on Ranelagh Road.

"I am so upset, I just can't speak. Just devastated. The whole family is torn apart. The soul is taken out of us. It has torn the soul out of us. You just don't know what came out of this or why this happened," he told reporters.

"She was never in trouble in her life. My sister rang me to say she was missing and we sent out texts to everybody, put it up on Facebook and put it up on the taxi website."

"All I can say is why, why, why, why? This is a beautiful girl, so young and so pretty, away from us all. We're just devastated."

Other residents in the building were evacuated while gardai conducted a thorough forensic search of the crime scene.

The house remained sealed off for a technical examination this weekend.

Yesterday gardai searched through bins in the yard in front of the house.

Gardai appealed for information at a press conference outside the crime scene last week.

They particularly want to speak to anyone who saw Joanne in the silver Micra, in the Ranelagh area or in the North Strand, where they believe she may been before she went missing.

Detectives have asked anyone with any information to contact Donnybrook garda station on 01 666 9200, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111 or any garda station.

Sunday Independent

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