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Efforts of HSE staff praised at Melissa inquest

THE HSE went to great lengths to protect Melissa Mahon before she was killed by Ronnie Dunbar, an inquest has heard.

Coroner Dr Desmond Moran praised the efforts of social workers at an inquest into the death of the teenager, who was killed in 2006.

Dunbar also known as Ronnie McManus, is serving life for the manslaughter of Melissa (14) at his home in Rathbraughan Park, Sligo between September 14 and 30, 2006.

Det Supt John O'Reilly, who headed the inquiry, told how Melissa was put into the emergency care of the HSE at Ballytivnan, Sligo, on August 28, 2006.

She went absent, but was later discovered by gardai and then sent to a foster home in Kinlough, Co Leitrim.

However, she ran away from there to a neighbouring house.

On the night of September 13-14, she was taken to Manorhamilton Garda Station where a care worker spent the night with her. A few hours later, still accompanied by the care worker, Melissa went into a public bathroom in Sligo to wash and change her clothes.

She vanished again, but just after midday was spotted by two care workers running towards Rathbraughan Park.



That was the last time she was seen alive.

Det Supt O'Reilly said a murder investigation was started after gardai went to a house in Rathbraughan Park.

The investigation discovered Dunbar/McManus was directly responsible for Melissa's death.

"He placed her body in a sleeping bag and tied it with a neck-tie," Supt O'Reilly said.

Her skeletal remains were later found by garda divers in Lough Gill.

Supt O'Reilly said Dunbar "killed this innocent child."

Dr Moran said it was an extremely sad case that for many years had brought great distress to Melissa's family and the citizens of Sligo.

He said the inquest may be a milestone in the family's grief.

"Melissa had a great future and met her death in a horrendous fashion. That justice was done may be some consolation, but it doesn't bring back Melissa," he said.

A verdict of unlawful killing was returned.

Melissa's two sisters were at the inquest, but refused to comment.