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Vandals 'targeted' crypt in church raid as gardaí trawl CCTV to find culprits

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Broke through steel door: The entrance to the vault at St Michan’s Church which was vandalised. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Broke through steel door: The entrance to the vault at St Michan’s Church which was vandalised. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Broke through steel door: The entrance to the vault at St Michan’s Church which was vandalised. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Gardaí investigating the theft of an 800-year-old mummified head and the desecration of human remains in a shocking attack at St Michan's Church, Dublin, say CCTV holds the key to identifying the culprits.

It is also believed the crypt was deliberately targeted and the attack was not a random act of vandalism.

"Whoever gained access to that crypt knew which one they were targeting and needed a lot of strength, and probably some equipment, to open the doors leading to it," a source has told the Irish Independent.

Gardaí are studying CCTV footage to pin down when the crypt was breached.

"It happened sometime between 2pm Saturday and 7am Sunday. It is hoped the extensive CCTV footage from the church grounds will indicate when exactly it happened as well as whether the people responsible gained access from Bow Street to the rear or Church Street to the front," the source said.

"Once that is established there will be a trawl of CCTV from the wider area which is hoped will give us a better picture of what happened."

Whoever broke into the crypt decapitated the mummified remains of the 800-year-old Crusader, which were in the crypt in the ancient church.

The 400-year-old body of a nun was also attacked and her head turned the wrong way around after vandals broke through a steel door and a metal gate leading to the crypt.

Several other preserved remains were also damaged. A separate head, with skin, a nose and ears, is also missing.

The Church of Ireland's Archdeacon of Dublin, the Venerable David Pierpoint, said the scene in the vault was "pretty gruesome".

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