Joseph Dowley: DNA tests to begin on exhumed remains

Family photo: North Wales Police

It could take up to four weeks to establish the identity of human remains exhumed from an unmarked grave.

Police believe the body, removed from Menai Bridge cemetery on Tuesday, may belong to Joseph Dowley from Kilkenny, who disappeared in October 1985 after visiting his relatives. He was last seen being driven to the ferry terminal at Dún Laoghaire for his return journey to Holyhead.

The body was found the following month by an RAF airman at a beach in Rhosneigr. But at the time, police were unable to establish the identity of the body and the local coroner returned an open verdict.

The inquest findings were quashed by the High Court last month after fresh evidence emerged amid new forensic efforts to solve similar cold cases using advanced DNA techniques. A judge at the Old Bailey ordered the remains to be exhumed following an injunction by North West Wales coroner Dewi Prtichard Jones.

DC Don Kenyon said formal identification of the body now rests with the coroner, who will order an examination of the recovered remains: ”I’m confident the exhumation will allow for sufficient DNA to be taken for a full comparison to be made which could take up to four weeks to complete. We’ve had regular contact with Mr Dowley’s family in Ireland and I’ve updated them following yesterday’s operation.”

”Our hope is to complete this stage of proceedings as quickly and professionally as possible so we can begin the process of reuniting the remains with family to grant them all the dignity and comfort of a full funeral and mass service.”

The cemetery was closed for around four hours on Tuesday while the exhumation took place. A graveside blessing by local priest Father Frank Murray took place at the family’s request before the operation began.

The remains were taken by hearse to Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor, where they will be examined by pathologists later this week.


Eich Gorsaf, Eich Llais / Your Station, Your Voice