The family of a man who disappeared more than a year ago faced an anxious wait tonight as forensic experts worked to identify a skull and skeletal remains found in a wooded area.
Gardaí have been searching the private land near Blessington in Co Wicklow for several days after workmen clearing forestry discovered a skull believed to belong to an adult male.
Skeletal remains found at the scene yesterday morning were also uncovered and taken away for testing.
No formal identification has been made, but it is thought that the remains could belong to Dubliner Paul Byrne, who went missing last July.
The 20-year-old father of one, whose girlfriend was pregnant with his second child at the time, was last seen in Tallaght after leaving the home of his partner’s mother.
The State Pathologist’s office is expected to establish how long the remains had been in the area, but tests to work out their identity are expected to take more time.
The skull, which was found on the surface of the ground, is also set to be examined by a forensic anthropologist.
Detectives – who recently renewed a public appeal for information on Mr Byrne’s disappearance – will change the status of their investigation to a murder inquiry if the remains belong to the missing father.
Workers made the discovery at around 1.20pm on Thursday while clearing woodland at Ballyfolan, near Manor Kilbride.
The scene was sealed off as a specialist Garda dog unit, divisional teams and forensic officers combed the land for more remains.
Searches in the quiet rural area are continuing.