Gardaí say it may take dental records and DNA profiling to confirm the identity of a man whose skeletal remains were found in a boarded up derelict house in Mallow at the weekend.
The remains of the man were found in a single-story terraced house on Beecher’s Street in Mallow by two Cork County Council staff around midday on Friday when they went into the property to close up shores and other openings after complaints by neighbours of rodent infestation.
The two council operatives notified gardaí after they found the skeletal remains in a bed in the house. Gardaí cordoned off the scene and members of Cork County Fire Service removed the remains to the morgue at Cork University Hospital (CUH) for a postmortem examination.
Assistant State Pathologist, Dr Margaret Bolster carried out a postmortem on the remains at CUH on Saturday afternoon and she confirmed to gardaí that there was nothing to suggest that the man had been the victim of foul play.
The focus of the Garda investigation has now turned to trying to establish the identity of the deceased with a container of butter with an expiry date in 2001 which was found in the fridge suggesting that the person may have been dead for over 20 years.
Gardaí have spoken to a local business owner who moved to the area in 2002 and they told investigators that the house was already boarded up when they arrived which again points to the person being dead for over 20 years.
Gardaí have begun door-to-door inquiries on the largely residential street on the northern outskirts of Mallow and it is understood locals have informed them that the last occupant of the house was a reclusive man whom they believed had either returned or gone to the UK.
According to Garda sources, the initial focus of their investigation to try to establish the identity of the deceased will be whether or not the remains may be those of the last known occupant of the property and they will be trying to establish when that person was last seen alive in Mallow.
However, gardaí cannot discount the possibility that the remains found in the house may be those of someone else, possibly a homeless person who may have entered the property when they discovered it was vacant if the previous occupant did go to the UK, as locals believed.
“We have to keep an open mind on this, but it looks very much like this is going to come down checking dental records or possibly the Missing Persons Database to see if there might be a match there with samples taken at postmortem with anyone reported missing,” said a Garda source.
“We’re also going to have make contact with police in the UK to see if they can trace the last known occupant of the house – it’s very early days yet but it looks like there is a lot of work to done before we will be in a position to confirm the identity of the deceased.”
Gardaí say that given they are satisfied there is nothing sinister or criminal about the man’s death, their focus is now on preparing a file for an inquest at the North Cork Coroner’s Court but they have asked anyone with any information to contact them at Mallow Garda station on 022-31450.
Meanwhile, Cork County Council have confirmed in a statement that the house is privately-owned and it was being inspected by Cork County Council staff following the serving of a Compulsory Purchase Order notice recently but was not in position to say on Sunday who the listed owner was.
Local Cork East Labour TD, Sean Sherlock said it was “extremely distressing that somebody could be found dead in a derelict house and it’s really sad to see in this day and age that people can die within our community and not be noticed or missed”.
“In saying that though, the community in Beecher Street are very closely knit and very much look out for each other and this has come as major shock to them but if the reports about this case are true, then the person in question may not have any close links in Mallow.”
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