Call for cold case units to be set up in every garda area

A retired Garda detective inspector, who investigated some of Ireland’s most infamous crimes, has called for cold case units to be installed in every Garda jurisdiction in the country.
Call for cold case units to be set up in every garda area
Pat Marry: ‘In many instances, senior gardaí will retire and their unsolved cases will remain there until someone takes it on.’
Pat Marry: ‘In many instances, senior gardaí will retire and their unsolved cases will remain there until someone takes it on.’

A retired Garda detective inspector, who investigated some of Ireland’s most infamous crimes, has called for cold case units to be installed in every Garda jurisdiction in the country.

Pat Marry, who was involved in investigating the murder of Rachel O’Reilly by her husband Joe in Co Dublin in 2004, as well as the killing of Garda Adrian Donohoe in Co Louth in 2013, said the Garda senior leadership team has not provided enough manpower to solve missing persons’ cases, unidentified remains or unsolved murders that have gone cold.

“It is not a lack of resources, rather a lack of a coherent strategy and planning for such cold cases,” he said.

Mr Marry, now a private investigator since retiring in 2018, spent years unsuccessfully trying to identify a skull found off Lambay Island, Co Dublin, in 2006.

Other cases of unidentified remains include a body of a man found in Ballincollig, Co Cork, in 1999, the bizarre mystery of Peter Bergmann in Sligo in 2009, and the case of ‘Busker Dave’ from 2002.

Mr Marry said: “Garda management has to take responsibility and examine case by case to see if cold investigations can be brought on any further.

"All of these cases involving missing persons, unidentified remains and unsolved major crimes are totally solvable. They just need that shot in the arm.

“There has been a huge lack of co-ordination in the gardaí to match up or compare evidence when it comes to tracing missing people or matching body parts that have been found.”

He said cold cases could now benefit from advances in DNA testing, online media and social media.

“In many instances, senior gardaí will retire and their unsolved cases will remain there until someone takes it on.

"Garda management needs to push these cases, to assign people in every jurisdiction to take them on, especially now with tools at our disposal such as DNA, online media and social media.”

He said he is a big believer in genealogical websites which, he said, have got a huge bank of DNA profiles.

“I believe we should be able to run cold case DNA through it, to see if we can finally get justice for cold- case victims.

"I would have been relentless about this when I was in the gardaí because it is a huge bank of knowledge sitting there.

“There are obviously privacy issues and the likes of GDPR, but surely some kind of process could be established that addresses concerns but also brings closure for victims’ families,” he said.

In his book, Without Trace: Ireland’s Missing, RTÉ reporter Barry Cummins, highlights one of Cork’s least-known mysteries, the discovery of a body in Ballincollig in 1999.

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