German man lay dead under a tree for a year

Arno Schmitz

By John Fallon

A German man who came to Ireland to start a new life died less than a month after arriving and lay dead under a tree in a wood for a year before his body was found by hunters.

But the discovery of the body near Lough Inagh in Connemara was only the start of the mystery and another eight years passed before he was finally identified.

An inquest in Clifden, Co Galway, was told yesterday that Arno Schmitz (right) from the Neumunster area of Germany had come to Ireland in 2005 to start a new life. He was aged 55 at the time and decided to move after a relationship with a Russian woman broke down.

Bernd Schmitz-Cramm said that the last time he saw his only brother was in November 2005 when he left Germany.

"He would contact me about every two days. It was coming up to Christmas 2005 was the last time I last spoke to Arno," he said.

Galway West Coroner Dr Ciaran McLoughlin was told that a year later a party of six hunters found a body under a tree. The fully-clothed body was in an advance state of decomposition. There was no evidence of injury or trauma and Dr McLoughlin was told that there was nothing to suggest foul play.

The coroner praised the work of the gardai and others searching for the man's identity.

A cleaning cloth for his Rayban sunglasses and a carton of fruit juice proved to be key items in solving the case.

The cleaning cloth was traced back to Germany but the glasses were non-prescription. Dental records suggested that the work may have been done in Germany or the United Kingdom.

A carton of Tropicana found near the body was crucial.

The inquest was told that gardai traced the origin of it and found that batch had gone on sale in late November 2005.

Consultant pathologist Dr Teresa McHale said the cause of death was indeterminate due to the advanced decomposition. A jury of eight people returned an open verdict.