Detectives investigating the murder of Kenneth O’Brien will meet this morning to decide their next step after a weekend of searches failed to bring a breakthrough.
Teams of gardaí have been scouring farmland and outbuildings in the vicinity of the Grand Canal at Ardclough, Co Kildare, where Mr O’Brien’s torso was discovered in a suitcase pulled from the water nine days ago.
They have yet to find the rest of his remains or the location where he was murdered, which they believe could hold vital clues.
A case conference will take place at Leixlip Garda Station this morning to review progress. While physical searches are expected to continue, detectives also hope a trawl of phone records will pin down Mr O’Brien’s movements and contacts in the days leading up to his death.
Mr O’Brien, a 33-year-old father of one originally from Ballyfermot in Dublin but more recently living in Clondalkin, left his home on Friday, January 15, telling his partner he was going down the country for work.
Gardaí believe he was murdered that night or in the small hours of Saturday morning and his body disposed of by his killers before morning, presumably not expecting it would be found so quickly by walkers out for a canal bank stroll.
Numerous theories about his killing have circulated, including that he was targeted by a love rival, that he was killed over a drug debt, and that he was a suspected Garda informer.
An added complication is that he had only returned from Australia a few weeks earlier after extended periods working there in recent years, so his contacts there are also having to be checked.
Mr O’Brien worked as a mechanic and JCB driver and had no prior convictions apart from motoring offences.
Yet in the last few years he installed security cameras at the house on Lealand Road in Clondalkin he shared with his partner, and added a strengthened front door with external letterbox, suggesting he feared for his safety, or the safety of his family in his absence.
His distraught partner and parents, who had welcomed him home for good in December, issued a photograph of him at the weekend, taken as he enjoyed a family dinner over the holidays, hoping to show him as the family man they knew and counteract impressions that he was involved in crime.
The investigation has been extensive, involving house-to-house inquiries, checkpoints, trawls of large stretches of land, repeated Garda subaqua team dives, and technical staff examining communications.
As officers gather this morning to collate their findings, they will also be keenly aware of another unsolved murder that continues to weigh heavily on them.
Today is the third anniversary of the death of Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe who was shot dead by an armed gang during a robbery at the Lordship Credit Union at Bellurgan, Co Louth. His killers remain at large.
His family, friends, and colleagues gathered at the scene for the annual candlelit vigil in his memory last Friday night, and an anniversary Mass was held in his hometown of Kilnaleck, Co Cavan, yesterday.
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