Gardaí appeal for witnesses in Cork murder probe

Gardaí investigating the murder of a mother of three before her house was set alight issued a fresh appeal for witnesses last night.

They want to hear from anyone who was in or near the Pembroke Crescent housing estate in Passage West in or around the time Olivia Dunlea-O’Brien’s body was discovered after a house fire.

The appeal came as detectives continued questioning a 35-year-old man who was arrested in the Passage West area on Sunday on suspicion of murder. He was still in custody at Togher Garda Station last night. It is understood he was known to Ms Dunlea-O’Brien.

Ms Dunlea-O’Brien was originally from Victoria Ave, Ballinlough, in Cork City, and was separated from her husband, Adrian. She was found dead after a blaze in her two-storey, semi-detached home inthe Pembroke Crescent housing estate in the early hours of Sunday.

Her children — Aaron, Megan, and Darragh — all aged under 12, were staying with their father that night.

Suspicions grew when forensic experts established there were two sites to the fire — one upstairs in the main bedroom where the victim’s body was found and the second in the downstairs area.

When an autopsy by State pathologist Marie Cassidy confirmed Ms Dunlea-O’Brien died a violent death, gardaí upgraded the investigation to a murder inquiry. Up to 40 gardaí are working on the case and have interviewed several people about Ms Dunlea- O’Brien’s last known movements.

She had been socialising on Saturday in the Rochestown Inn before returning home in a taxi around midnight. Neighbours raised the alarm around 1.30am.

Detectives have also checked CCTV footage to trace the movements of persons of interest to the investigation.

Gardaí have asked anyone in or around the Pembroke Crescent area between midnight on Saturday and 2am on Sunday to contact Togher Garda Station on 021 4947 127, or the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111.

Ms Dunlea-O’Brien’s children, who are pupils of Star of the Sea primary school in Passage West, are being cared for by family.

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