Mahon murder trial shown photographic evidence

The jury in the Melissa Mahon murder trial has been shown photographs of human remains found on the shore of Lough Gill in Sligo.

Teeth, hair, bones, underwear, a nightdress and a sleeping bag tied with a man’s neck tie were found and photographed by gardaí on dates between February 11 and March 20, 2008 at Cullentra, Lough Gill.

The Central Criminal Court jury earlier heard that 14 year-old Melissa Mahon had gone missing from the care of the Health Service Executive on September 14, 2006.

Ronald McManus, also known as Ronnie Dunbar, (aged 44), of Rathbraughan Park, Sligo, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of the schoolgirl on a date unknown between September 14 and 30, 2006. He also denies threatening to kill one of his daughters during the same period.

Garda Leo Sheridan told Isobel Kennedy SC, prosecuting, that the photographs before the jury were of items found at locations along the shore line. The items included a jaw bone, ribs, vertebrae, several teeth, skull fragments, a thigh bone, a calf bone and hair tangled in tree branches.

A child’s nightdress with a ‘Beauty and the Beast’ design, pink underwear, and a bra were also found. The jury saw a photograph of a sleeping bag with a gent’s neck tie knotted around the end of it.

As a photograph of the jaw bone were shown to the jury, Melissa’s mother Mary Mahon began to cry and left the court room with the deceased’s father.

The jury is expected to hear evidence from the accused’s daughter that she saw him put Melissa’s body into a sleeping bag and throw her into the River Bonnet, a stretch of water which runs into Lough Gill.

The jury was also shown a video taken from a car travelling the route between the accused man’s house and the spot along the River Bonnet to which gardaí were directed by Mr Dunbar’s daughter.

Detective Sergeant Tom Lee talked the jury through the video of the journey as it was played in court. The journey lasted around 25 minutes. He said that on a dry day the bank of the river was accessible by car. He pointed out a path which led along the river to a clearing which had been identified by the accused man’s daughter.

The trial continues at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin before Mr Justice Barry White and a jury of six men and six women. It has completed its sixth day and was scheduled to last for five weeks.

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