Gardaí announced last night that DNA analysis has confirmed that human remains found on the Grand Canal on Sunday were those of Mr O’Brien.
The items being examined were seized during searches at separate locations along two canals on Sunday and Monday. It is believed from unconfirmed reports that Mr O’Brien may have been shot dead before being dismembered.
Investigators hope the forensic examination may glean DNA, fingerprint and other evidence which may assist in identifying the killers. But some sources cautioned that it might be difficult for scientists to get samples given the items have been in the water.
Experts at Forensic Science Ireland are already conducting tests on plastic wrapping in which Mr O’Brien’s torso was covered and the suitcase his torso was placed inside.
Searches continued at Sallins yesterday, 17kms from where the torso of the dad-of-one was found on the same canal at the village of Ardclough on January 16.
In a separate search last Monday, in the waters of the Royal Canal at Maynooth, north of Sallins, gardaí located another bag.
This contained equipment and gardaí want to know if it was used to dismember Mr O’Brien. The equipment, thought to be part of a power tool, did not have the saw or blades attached.
Garda sources described the finds as “significant”, but cautioned that the forensic examinations challenges.
“If an item has been in water it reduces the chances of samples,” one source said. “Forensic tests can take weeks to come back and, if we get samples, we need to compare it against something.”
Gardaí do have an extensive Automated Fingerprint Identification System with which to compare fingerprint samples.
Forensic Science Ireland have a DNA database, but its DNA profile register only has samples from last November, when it was set up.
Gardaí suspect that Mr O’Brien may have got financially involved with a criminal gang from the Clondalkin/Ballyfermot region and that this outfit could be behind his murder.