Body recovered off cliffs in Donegal as police say postmortem to decide murder case fate

The results of a pending postmortem on a body found off cliffs will decide if police in the Republic are to launch a murder investigation.

A week after cops initially launched a search following reports that a man had been seriously assaulted, a body was found in the water off the well-known tourist area just after 4am on Monday.

The body was recovered by Gardai with the assistance of the Irish Coast Guard at Slieve League in Co Donegal.

Read next: Man arrested on suspicion of murder after Irishwoman found dead in Salou

The remains were taken to Letterkenny University Hospital after 8am and the Republic’s State Pathologist’s office was informed of the discovery.

It is understood that a representative from the State Pathologist’s office is currently traveling to Donegal to carry out a postmortem on the body. Local reports say the examination may not take place until Tuesday morning at the hospital.

The findings will be passed on to Gardai who have set up an incident room at Ballyshannon Garda station under the direction of a Senior Investigating Officer.

Although the identity of the body has not yet been confirmed, it is understood to be that of a man in his mid to late 60s from Northern Ireland, possibly Co Tyrone. The man is understood to have been socialising in the Kilcar, Glenties or Slieve League area in the days leading up to the weekend of June 25/26th when he disappeared.

Tourists are turned away
Tourists are turned away

He was understood to have been seen in the company of a man and a woman.

The pair, a man in his late 30s and a woman in her late 20s, were subsequently arrested on Monday morning last.

The woman was quizzed at Ballyshannon Garda Station while the man was quizzed at Letterkenny Garda Station before both were released without charge within a short time of each other on Tuesday evening.

A jeep-type car belonging to the man is still being held and examined by Gardai as part of their investigation into the alleged serious assault and the discovery of a body.

Splatters of blood found in the car will play a major role in the direction of any criminal investigation when cross-matched with DNA taken from the body recovered from the sea.

A house in the Killybegs area which has direct links with the man arrested was also sealed off and examined by Gardai as part of their investigation.

The area where Irish police and the Irish Coast Guard carried out the search
The area where Irish police and the Irish Coast Guard carried out the search

Local county councillor Niamh Kennedy said at least now there is some form of closure following a week of searching.

“It’s really sad and upsetting news for the entire area. People are relieved that a body has been found and there can be some sort of closure for the family.

“A formal identification will have to be done now and Gardai have appealed for any possible footage to come forward so they can piece the whole thing together. As I said, it has been a traumatic time for everyone so my condolences go to everyone involved,” she said.

A Garda spokesperson again appealed for anybody with any information on anything out of the ordinary in the area to come forward.

The spokesperson said “An Garda Síochána are continuing to investigate all the circumstances of an alleged assault that is reported to have occurred in the Slieve League/Killybegs area of County Donegal between Saturday 24th June 2023 and Sunday 25th June 2023.

The access car park area to the cliff walk at Slieve League
The access car park area to the cliff walk at Slieve League
(Image: Image: Mick O’Neill/Daily Mirror/Irish Daily Star)

“Investigating Gardaí are appealing to any persons travelling in the vicinity of Killybegs/Slieve League between the afternoon of Saturday 24th June 2023 and the evening of Sunday 25th June 2023 who observed any activity which drew their attention to come forward.

Any road users travelling in these areas at these times who may have camera footage (including dash-cam) are asked to make this footage available to Gardaí.

“Anyone with any information is asked to contact Ballyshannon Garda Station on 071 985 8530, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111, or any Garda station.”

For all the latest news, visit the Belfast Live homepage here and sign up to our daily newsletter here

BelfastLive – Co Tyrone