A 38-year old man admitted to gardaí that he put a family of an Ennis man through “three weeks of hell” by not telling them the missing man’s body was in his apartment all that time.
At Ennis Circuit Court yesterday, Sgt Catriona Houlihan said the badly decomposed remains of Frankie Hassett, aged 25, were found in the shower of an apartment rented by Bernard Flaherty, of 3 Lifford Lodge, Ennis on Jul 3, 2011.
Sgt Houlihan said Mr Hassett’s body could only be identified by dental records and a tattoo.
Mr Flaherty hid Mr Hassett’s body for 19 days before breaking down in a Garda interview and admitted Mr Hassett’s body was in his shower wrapped in plastic.
Mr Hassett died in Mr Flaherty’s apartment on Jun 14 after taking prescription drugs with Mr Flaherty.
Counsel for Mr Flaherty, Michael Collins BL, said Mr Flaherty did not tell gardaí Mr Hassett’s remains were in his apartment because he believed he would be blamed for the death.
Mr Flaherty said he lay beside Mr Hassett’s remains crying, not knowing what to do, and that he believed the only way out was to take his own life.
Mr Hassett’s family reported him missing on Jun 20 and Sgt Houlihan said gardaí mounted “a major operation” in the search for Mr Hassett.
Sgt Houlihan said 40 people were interviewed, 17 statements taken, and 50 hours of CCTV footage studied in an investigation that involved 14 gardaí.
Sgt Houlihan said 837 Garda hours were spent on the investigation before Mr Hassett’s body was found.
She said Mr Flaherty was confirmed as the last person to have been with Mr Hassett on Jun 14.
Sgt Houlihan told the court that “Mr Hasssett’s brother Ian and his uncle, went to Mr Flaherty on Jun 21 and pleaded with him for any information on Mr Hassett, and Bernard Flaherty told them he hadn’t seen Frankie Hassett after 8.10pm on Jun 14.”
The Hassett family were “absolutely distraught” over Mr Hassett’s death and the subsequent events.
Gardaí interviewed Mr Flaherty on Jun 24 and, arising from inconsistencies in his statement, again on Jul 3, when he admitted that Mr Hassett’s body was in his shower.
Sgt Houlihan said gardaí reported a very strong and unpleasant smell as they approached the door of the apartment.
Mr Flaherty said Mr Hassett stayed at his apartment for one night and he found him blue and cold the following morning and placed him under the shower under cold water in an attempt to revive him.
Mr Flaherty said that he wanted to apologise to the Hassetts. He said: “I could have stopped the family going through three weeks of hell.”
Judge Carroll Moran described the case as ‘very unusual and very sad”.
He adjourned sentencing to February for a psychiatric report on Mr Flaherty.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved