ANXIOUS relatives of a missing Dublin man are waiting to discover if the decomposed skeletal remains discovered in a wooded area of Wicklow are those of their son.
Shocked forest workers found a skull while felling a tree on Thursday afternoon in a hilly area near Manor Kilbride, Blessington.
Items of clothing and other bones were discovered by forensic gardaí on the wooded ground.
Forensic tests expected last night and today were set to reveal whether the decayed remains where those of missing father- of-two Paul Byrne.
The Tallaght man, 20, was last seen driving out of his estate, Kilmartin Green, with friends on July 15 last year.
His family yesterday spoke of their hope that tests on the remains could turn out to be his.
Joe Dempsey, his step-father, said family members had visited the site of the skeletal remains in west Wicklow.
“We’re all hopeful. But it’s difficult for us at the moment also,” he told the Irish Examiner.
Gardaí though are keeping an open mind on whose body it is.
Superintendent Eamon Keogh said the remains belonged to a male aged anywhere between the ages of 18 and 50.
There were no indications of any external injuries to the bones, a separate investigation source confirmed.
Tests on the skull’s teeth are expected to help identify the male’s remains.
Superintendent Keogh added: “It’s too early to say yet who it is. The search is still ongoing around where the skull was found and will be for sometime.”
State Pathologist Marie Cassidy arrived at the wooded site yesterday and a forensic garda team continued to examine the sealed off area.
Mr Byrne’s aunt, Debbie, and sister, Leah, were among those anxiously standing near the sealed-off site yesterday.
The family had recently held a Mass to mark the anniversary of his disappearance and prayed for his body to be found.
While not known to gardaí, Mr Byrne is believed to have been targeted by a local gang.
His partner, Martina McQuillan, only discovered that she was pregnant with their second child just weeks before he vanished. She gave birth to a second baby girl in February.
One daily newspaper has claimed the Real IRA contacted its offices and threatened “swift actions” against Paul’s alleged killers unless his body was returned to his family.
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