The hills in Ireland have always held their dark secrets and even in the remote parts you hear of murders years ago with cryptic explanations such as “it was the land”, “he was a bit of a loner”, “the drink took over”, “he had an awful temper” and so forth. However even by normal standards Ireland seems to have developed murderous tastes with a total of 13 people have dying violently since the beginning of the year – more than quadruple the number of killings in the same period in 2013. Not just that but these are particularly vicious and cowardly murders including of a pensioner, a father of six and a young women found in a hotel room. Furthermore the chances of a full account being had for these murders are being compromised by under staffing and resourcing at the Irish State Pathologist’s office.
Professor Marie Cassidy performed five post-postmortems in just six days as the Office of the State Pathologist struggles to cope with the dramatic rise in violent killings this year. The office is so understaffed following the controversial resignation of her former deputy, Dr Khalid Jaber, that on one occasion two days passed before a full post-mortem was conducted on the remains of a man who was beaten to death in his own home.
And just last week, it was a full 24 hours before a pathologist was able to examine the remains of another man who was killed in his Co Offaly home last weekend. Thomas (Toddy) Dooley, sustained severe injuries to his head and upper body when the 64 year old pensioner was attacked in his sheltered accommodation just beside the Police Station in the town of Edenderry, Co. Offaly. Five of these were carried out in a six-day spell in early January, including three in three consecutive days. Prof Cassidy examined the remains of Christy Daly (47) a father of six whose body was discovered in a drain on a bog road near Clara in Co Offaly on January 7. The following day she conducted the post-mortem on Thomas Horan, who had been beaten to death in his own home in Dublin’s south inner city two days earlier.
Between January 10 and 12 she examined the remains of three more victims, including that of Iona Institute researcher Tom O’Gorman. Working for the right wing Catholic pressure group he was seemingly murdered and some of his organs eaten by his Italian “lodger” in his large house in a Dublin suburb. The lodger has since been sectioned under the Mental Health act.
Prof Cassidy’s sole deputy, Dr Michael Curtis, has also carried out post-mortems on six people who were killed this year – all falling on Sundays or holidays. He examined the remains of Wayne McQuillan (30), the first violent death victim of 2014, who was stabbed to death in his Drogheda home on New Year’s Day. He performed further autopsies on career criminal Michael Devoy (41) on January 19 and on the body of murdered mother Sonia Blount (31) last week. Devoy, from Balbutcher Drive in Ballymun, Dublin, was shot dead at Bohernabreena in the foothills of the Dublin Mountains. He had been released from prison some days earlier and was wearing a bullet-proof vest. Ms Blount’s body was discovered by staff in a room in the Plaza Hotel in Tallaght on Sunday, February 16. Eric Locke (31), from St John’s Park East in Clondalkin, has since been charged with her murder.
Dr Margaret Bolster, the assistant state pathologist, has taken over on-call duties. She has performed just one post-mortem examination this year, on the remains of Alexander Karpov, who was killed in Portarlington, Co Laois, last weekend and a Lithuanian national is under arrest. The shortage of pathologists means crime scenes have had to be preserved for longer than might be normal.
According to Dr Rahul Pathak, a lecturer in forensic science at the UK’s Anglia Ruskin University, who worked as a pathologist for nine years in Zambia, it is important to examine the remains of victims without delay. “Any case, when it is reported, it should be concluded as quickly as possible. That is what I would like to see. There shouldn’t be any delay,” he said. Prof Cassidy is currently running operations from a cramped, temporary portacabin beside the mortuary on the grounds of the Dublin Fire Brigade training centre in Marino, North Dublin. Not quiet CSI Dublin?
So there you have it an outbreak of horrible crimes in a country where murder and “hits” have become habitual among gangland thugs engaged in turf wars and score settling but now seems to encompass both the bad and the mad. What is it, is it the drink, is it the bad weather, is it the recession with the dreams of the Celtic Tiger shattered or is it something in the air? No doubt time despite the problems with the Pathologists office and a Police Force who don’t quiet understand the expression “best practice” will tell. Or maybe like the musty outpourings from the hills time will leave us more confused again about homicidal Hibernians?
Today, powered by its readers and contributors, from its cyber eyries in Ireland and the centres of the Irish Diaspora The Eagle casts its Cold Eye on Life and Death and much in between.