Inspector Tom Kennedy was speaking after the badly decomposed remains of the 25-year-old Ennis man were found by gardaí partially concealed in the shower area of an apartment on the Lifford Road area in Ennis on Sunday evening.
Gardaí, along with the local Civil Defence and the man’s family, had been carrying out extensive searches of the Ennis area since Mr Hassett — from the Drumbiggle area of Ennis — disappeared on June 14 last. His family had also issued public appeals for information on their missing son and brother.
Following a postmortem on Mr Hassett’s remains, Insp Kennedy said: “From the results of the postmortem, we believe that Mr Hassett may have been dead for quite a considerable period of time and quite close in time to his disappearance.”
Mr Hassett’s remains were found in the apartment of an associate and the local man has been interviewed by gardaí, though he has not been arrested.
It is understood that the occupier of the apartment did not tell gardaí of Mr Hassett’s death and it was only after gardaí interviewed him on Sunday afternoon that he revealed that Mr Hassett’s remains were in his apartment.
The occupier of the apartment was yesterday receiving psychiatric assistance and was under the care of the Health Service Executive. Insp Kennedy said the man will be subject to a further interview.
Insp Kennedy said that the man had been interviewed previously by gardaí within the last week on Mr Hassett’s last movements but was not able to help gardaí locate Mr Hassett’s whereabouts.
The Garda and Civil Defence search since June 14 has involved searches of the River Fergus, which flows through Ennis, vacant houses, derelict buildings and areas Mr Hassett frequented.
Insp Kennedy said: “We never envisaged that Mr Hassett’s body would have been found in an apartment occupied by someone who didn’t inform anyone. These are very unusual circumstances and it is baffling to say the least.”
Insp Kennedy said preliminary examinations of Mr Hassett’s remains had shown nothing untoward in the manner in which he died.
Assistant State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis yesterday carried out the postmortem at the Mid Western Regional Hospital in Limerick. The results were inconclusive, but further toxicology tests will be carried out.
Insp Kennedy said: “The results of the toxicology tests will not be known for some days.”
Insp Kennedy said that the focus on the investigation will be on Mr Hassett’s last movements, how he came to be in the apartment and how he came to die.