Garda appeal over 'mystery' of remains held in Limerick morgue for five years

Remains held in the morgue at the University Hospital Limerick

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

Garda appeal over 'mystery' of remains held in Limerick morgue for five years

Garda appeal over 'mystery' of remains held in Limerick morgue for five years

GARDAI are appealing for the public’s help to help solve the “mystery” identity of a body which has remained in a Limerick morgue for five years.

Inspector Paul Slattery, of Ennistymon garda station, said they are struggling to identify the remains of a man, believed to be a non-Irish national, which was discovered “accidentally” by men in a fishing boat near Loop Head in 2012.

For the past five years his remains have been held in the freezer compartment at minus 20 degrees Celsius in the morgue at the University Hospital Limerick.

It is at the discretion of the Coroner whether his remains will be held indefinitely.

“It’s not quite unprecedented, but it is an absolute mystery at this stage who the man is. It is the longest unsolved case we’ve had in Clare in 20 years. The man could have been an Irish resident or a tourist in the area; we just don’t know, but any help from the public would be appreciated,” Insp Slattery told the Limerick Leader.

Attempts to create a photofit of the man through a facial reconfiguration expert in Scotland also proved unsuccessful, he confirmed.

His DNA profile is among 17 profiles from unidentified bodies in the State, which are now on the national DNA database in Dublin.

Inspector Slattery said that no clothing or personal belongings were recovered which could assist them in their enquiries in this case, such is the case in many cases where remains are discovered along the west coast.

“Our investigation in this case is still open, and we have been working with Interpol, Europol, the Forensic Science Laboratory in Dublin and the Missing Persons bureau in the hope of identifying him,” he said.

Over a dozen bodies have been recovered off the coast of Clare in the past 18 months, and he said gardai have to increasingly rely on the DNA database in Dublin to help identify remains.

“The establishment of the DNA database in Dublin has been of massive benefit to us in helping to identify remains and return them to their loved ones, and we have used it successfully in several cases so far this year. But the database is only as good as the information you put into it, and that includes DNA samples from relatives of missing people,” he said.

Three bodies currently remain in the morgue of the University Hospital Limerick - two of which are unidentifiable, including those of a woman found near Doolin, while one has been identified but has yet to be claimed by the family.

A third body, which has been in the morgue since February, has been identified as that of a Romanian man and gardai in Limerick are liaising with the family in the hope of returning his remains to them.