Forensic tests are being carried out to identify a man — described only as white and fairly large-framed — whose torso was found in a suitcase at a rural spot on the Grand Canal.

Searches were continuing yesterday in the waters near the Co Kildare village of Ardclough to locate any other remains or evidence.

Gardaí are satisfied the man was murdered in recent days — and, contrary to some initial reports, do not believe it is Barry Corcoran, who has been missing since last July.

The remains were found by local walkers at 3.30pm on Saturday. Gardaí suspect the suitcase may have been dumped near where it was found, a short distance down from Ardclough Bridge. It is near the entrance of what is known locally as The Village, located in the late Tony Ryan’s Lyons estate.

Detectives suspect it could have been put there overnight on Friday, but stressed they were still trying to determine when exactly.

Supt Gerry Wall of Leixlip Garda Station said the suitcase was found some 500m from Ardclough Bridge, also known as Henry Bridge.

He said gardaí wanted to speak to anyone on what is a popular canal walkway between Ardclough Bridge and Kearneystown Bridge, some 5kms away.

“This is a walkway used by people everyday,” he said. If you walked this canal, cycled it, whatever, in the last number of days, we’re asking you to contact us.”

Divers at the Grand Canal in Co Kildare.
Divers at the Grand Canal in Co Kildare.

He specified the key period as being since last Thursday.

“From the early evidence in this investigation we’re satisfied that this is a recent event,” Supt Wall said.

Dr Michael Curtis, the deputy state pathologist, conducted a preliminary postmortem at the scene early yesterday. It is thought the condition of the torso lead investigators to believe the murder took place in recent days.

This, together with the torso’s largish frame, lead gardaí to the belief it was not Mr Corcoran. DNA and blood samples were taken during a full postmortem at Naas General Hospital and gardaí will see if that gives them any leads.

The Garda Technical Bureau will examine the suitcase and search for fingerprint, DNA or fibre evidence, which may reveal clues as to the victim or his possible attackers.

Supt Wall said the Garda Water Unit and Divisional Search Team, together with the Garda Technical Bureau, have examined the waters and canal bank. This search is likely to be expanded today. Anyone with information can contact gardaí on 01 6667800.

‘Macabre and grotesque’ discovery in canal

Cormac O’Keeffe, Ardclough, Kildare

Macabre and grotesque was how Tom McLoughlin described the grisly find.

Perched on his bicycle at the old stone bridge in the Co Kildare village of Ardclough, he said he was “utterly shocked” at the discovery of a man’s torso in a suitcase in the waters of “a quiet hamlet”.

The man’s identity remained a mystery yesterday, with gardaí only able to say that he was white and fairly big-framed. But they were able to say — contrary to early media reports — who he was not: Wicklow man Barry Corcoran, missing since last July.

The torso’s condition told investigators the man was killed and dismembered in recent days.

“It’s macabre, grotesque that this would happen in a quiet little hamlet,” Mr McLoughlin said, looking down the Grand Canal at the gathered gardaí.

“I’m utterly shocked; it’s shocking from the point of view I cycle this bank every day and to think the body was lying in the reeds.”

The body being removed from the scene at Ardclough.
The body being removed from the scene at Ardclough.

Gardaí are investigating if the suitcase was dumped at the spot overnight on Friday and are putting together a “jigsaw” of who was on the path since Thursday.

Local dog walker Derek Maguire could have been the first person to come across discover the remains. He said he saw the suitcase on the canal when he went for a walk on Saturday at 10.30am, five hours before gardaí were notified about its contents.

“I actually saw the suitcase floating on the water. You see rubbish all the time, that’s what I thought it was. When I heard what is was, I was shocked alright.”

However, he pointed out two young Dublin men, Darren Carey and Patrick Murray, were murdered some 5km up the canal, at Kearneystown, in 2000.back at the Millenium.

“You are out of the way here,” Mr Maguire said. “But at Kearneystown, you are at the border with Dublin, so its handy for them [the Dublin gangs], you know.”

Supt Gerry Wall, who is leading the investigation, said the suitcase was found just 500m from Ardclough Bridge, also known as Henry Bridge. He is hoping to speak to everyone who was on the walkway since Thursday.

Another local, who did not wish to be named, said: “People are shocked and horrified. This is such a quiet and remote area. We’re just used to people going out for a walk along here and enjoying themselves.”

Tests are ongoing on the suitcase and torso, which was wrapped in plastic, to identify victim and killer.

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