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Rachel murder weapon could have been found

GARDAI are carrying out forensic tests on a dumbbell found in a stream just 2km from where mother-of-two Rachel O'Reilly was murdered nine years ago.

Now officers will try to establish if it could be the murder weapon used by her husband Joe to bludgeon her to death.

Mum-of-two Rachel was murdered by her husband Joe at their home in the Naul, north Co Dublin, in October 2004.

Despite extensive searches of the area surrounding the couple's home, the weapon used to kill Rachel was never found.

Investigating gardai have long held the opinion that Joe O'Reilly used a dumbbell to murder his wife.

The heavily rusted dumbbell was spotted in a stream by a 22-year-old local man as he was walking his dog. He first spotted it about a month ago and thought nothing of it. However, he subsequently heard about the belief that a dumbbell could have been used to kill Rachel – and was never found.

"It was pretty rusted, so it had been there for quite a while. It was a 10kg dumbbell, the kind you can lift with one hand," he explained.

"I saw it there a couple of times when I was out walking the dog but I didn't think anything of it, but then when somebody said to me that the dumbbell used to kill Rachel was never found, I thought it was a coincidence, so I called the gardai in Balbriggan," he added.

A detective came out to the stream with him.

"He wore protective gloves and was very careful about how he recovered it, and he placed it in a plastic bag," said the man.

"He said it could be something and it could be nothing."

The dumbbell is now being examined in the Garda Technical Bureau in the Phoenix Park.

Reacting to the find, Rachel's father Jim Callaly said: "This means the gardai could now finally have in their possession the missing link, the final piece of evidence."

However, a security source said the dumbbell's exposure to the elements for so long could make it difficult to find fingerprints or traces of blood on it.