AN RTE employee may have accidently scuppered a murder inquiry by dumping part of a human skull.
Gardai have been investigating the killing of brutal rapist James Nolan, whose severed arm was found on Dollymount Strand last February.
In a bizarre twist, a woman who is understood to be an RTE employee claimed her dog found part of a human skull, which may have belonged to Nolan, on the same beach.
It is understood it was found around the same time the arm was washed up and the woman drove home with the skull without realising what it was. Later, she put it in a bin at her home and it was then disposed of in the garbage system.
She came forward when gardai issued an appeal about the severed arm but by that time it was impossible to trace the skull. However officers still carried out detailed forensic tests on the woman's car and home, which failed to yield any clues.
The revelation comes as the Herald learned that the chief suspect for the murder was previously involved in a savage assault that destroyed an innocent man's life.
The suspect is a notorious criminal who, like James Nolan, has spent much of his life in jail for offences such as armed robbery, serious assaults and drug offences.
It has now emerged that a north Dublin man whom the 43-year-old savagely assaulted back in the 1980s developed epilepsy seizures in the years following the assault which ultimately led to his death more than two decades later.
The murder suspect and one of his associates were jailed for their roles in the assault but the victim's family now want the 43-year-old to be charged with murder.
Gardai have told the family that they will examine the possibility of re-opening the case but senior sources concede that it is "very unlikely".
The murder suspect was later jailed for an armed robbery in north Dublin which he committed while on the run from prison.
Gardai believe that Nolan (46) was murdered and his body cut into pieces and dumped in the Irish Sea.
The crime might never have been revealed except for the discovery of the arm, which extensive DNA tests showed belonged to Nolan.
A suspect in the case has been identified and he was arrested by detectives in June but was later released without charge. Sources say that the suspect "knew James Nolan extremely well and murdered him over a bitter financial dispute".
Nolan, of Fairlawn Road, Finglas, had been missing since he was released from jail last November.