Missing Irishman: unidentified remains to be exhumed

RTÉ News

The High Court has ordered unidentified human remains to be exhumed from an Anglesey beach in a bid to establish whether they belong to a missing Irishman.

Joseph Dowley disappeared in October 1985 following a return visit to see his relatives in Kilkenny. The 63 year-old, who was living in London at the time, was last seen taking a bus for the Dún Laoghaire – Holyhead ferry.

An unidentified body was found near Holyhead a few weeks later – but an inquest the following January recorded an open verdict. But Mr Dowley’s family says they have uncovered new evidence that the body could be his remains.

Judges at the Old Bailey have now quashed the original verdict and ordered a fresh inquest to take place after granting an application by North West Wales coroner Dewi Pritchard Jones.

The court heard the body had been found with several missing teeth and three long-standing scars on the abdomen – but when North Wales Police tried to identify the body, it ruled out Mr Dowley after his estranged wife at the time claimed he had a full set of teeth.

His family tracked down a woman who lived with Mr Dowley in London and claimed he had several missing teeth at the time he disappeared. Medical records also pointed towards three surgical scars on his abdomen.

Last summer, Mr Dowley’s son, retired policeman Alan Dowley told RTE’s Prime Time programme he had contacted North Wales Police amid new forensic efforts to solve similar cold cases using advanced forensic techniques.

He said: ”We were aware back at the time of the body found in Wales, but this was a time before DNA…in 1986, Welsh police had looked for my father’s dental records but we did not have them. Things seemed to fizzle out after that. There was no way to identify the body.”

Mr Dowley said he had given a DNA sample to Irish gardaí to be compared with the remains.

Lord Justice Holroyde said on Wednesday that a new inquest – including exhuming and examining the remains – was ”necessary and desirable in the interests of justice”.

He added: ”I am satisfied that the evidence now available gives rise to a real likelihood that a body, hitherto unidentified, can now be identified and that the family of Mr Dowley may, after so many years, have at least some comfort.”

Last month, an inquest returned an open verdict on the death of Pauline Finlay, whose body was found at Cable Bay in October 1994. She was identified late last year after new DNA evidence linked her to leg and hip remains, which were buried in an unmarked grave at a cemetery in Ynys Wen.

Eich Ynys, Eich Llais
Your Island, Your Voice