Wednesday 22 January 2020

Pregnant Aoife was beaten to death and buried in a barrel

Aoife Phelan
Garda forensic officers examine the scene at Timahoe Road, outside Portlaoise, where pregnant nanny Aoife Phelan's body was found after a 13-day search

Ed Carty and Tom Brady

MURDERED pregnant nanny Aoife Phelan was beaten to death and her body buried in a barrel, it was revealed this afternoon.

A post mortem confirmed it was the body of Aoife Phelan (30) that had been found by garda search teams during excavation at the back of a property in Portlaoise, Co Laois yesterday.

A decision on the fate of a man being questioned by gardai about the murder of Ms Phelan is not expected to be reached until late tonight.

Gardai have until after midnight before determining whether the 24-year-old man is to face charges or be released from custody.

Senior officers are in regular contact with lawyers from the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions as the questioning continues at Portlaoise garda station.

The man was arrested initially in the town on Monday evening and set free shortly before midnight on Tuesday.

He was re-arrested shortly after 7.00 last night, hours after the discovery of Aoife’s body in a massive hole that had been dug behind a hedge at the rear of a house at Timahoe Road outside the town.

Gardai found the body covered by clay and rubble in a barrel when they excavated more than ten feet into the ground at the property in Portlaoise

A post mortem examination, carried out by State Pathologist, Dr Marie Cassidy, confirmed that she died as a result of an assault.

It is understood that her body was put into an old metal barrel and thrown in a pit. It was later covered over.

Her family have also formally identified the body.

Ms Phelan was four months’ pregnant when she vanished two weeks ago after meeting a friend and leaving a house on Colliers View in the town.

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