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Monday 17 June 2019

Top dog team used to help gardai sniff out clues

Ralph Riegel

THE vicious killer of mother-of-one Margaret 'Meg' Walsh is now being hunted by an elite British police dog team who were successfully used in the Soham murder inquiry,

The dogs were brought to Waterford to help gardai with their probe into the murder of Meg Walsh (35) on October 1. The animals recently helped the FBI track down a multiple murderer in Nashville, Tennessee.

The four dogs include the spaniel, Keela, the only known animal in the world capable of detecting and following a human blood-scent.

British police inspector Mark Harrison, of the National Centre for Police Excellence (NCPE), said the hounds had been used in the hunt for the murderer of Holly Wells (10) and Jessica Chapman (10) in Soham, Cambridgeshire, in August 2002.

The dogs ultimately helped bring 29-year-old school caretaker Ian Huntley to justice.

"The dogs that we have here include two from South Yorkshire Police and one of those is the only one in the world trained to detect human blood," said Insp Harrison. "The other is a victim recovery dog and helps us find human remains."

"The other two dogs are specially trained to follow a specific scent, an individual scent," he added.

Mr Harrison said that the dog unit was deployed in Waterford after gardai there had asked for "special assistance" in relation to the case of Margaret Walsh.

The British dog teams were yesterday working on multiple sites around Waterford, including Ms Walsh's Ballinakill home. "These dogs assist us in what we call investigative intelligence - they help us to piece together the jigsaw of the sequence of events that may have happened in this case," said Inspector Harris.

"In addition to that they look for hard and physical evidence. By way of example, the human blood dog can detect blood that is not visible to the human eye."

Insp Harrison added that the team were pleased with their work to date in Waterford. "We have detected quite a few things of interest of intelligence and we will continue to do that," he said. "The picture at the moment is quite incomplete and we will be working with the Garda detectives in hopefully completing the sequence of events."

The skilled team have also helped deliver crucial breakthroughs in previous cases such as the horrific murder of Attracta Harron in Northern Ireland.

It is expected the British dog team will conclude their work on the Meg Walsh case today but they will be available for longer.

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