Decapitated remains of missing man found in shallow grave, murder trial says
The decapitated and “skeletonized” remains of a missing Dubliner have been found curled up in a fetal position in a shallow grave, as attempts were made to burn his body, a pathologist said at a murder trial.
The jury also heard from the expert witness that in their opinion, Philip Finnegan’s death was caused by multiple stab wounds to the body, including two fatalities to the liver and aorta.
The central criminal court was further informed that the identity of the deceased, missing for almost a month, had been confirmed by fingerprint after the skin which had “slipped” from a finger was recovered from the floor of the house. grave.
Stephen Penrose (38), of Newtown Court, Malahide Road, Coolock, Dublin 17, pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mr Finnegan (24) at Rahin Woods, Rahin, Edenderry, Co Kildare on August 10, 2016.
The lawsuit heard Mr Finnegan was missing for 30 days before a dog walker and his two pets found remains buried in a shallow grave in the woods of Co Kildare.
Evidence was given that a garden fork, shovel and knife blade were found near the remains. A garden glove with extensive fire damage, a black funnel and the remains of a cell phone were found buried nearby in a fire pit.
Testifying today, Deputy State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster told prosecutor Brendan Grehan SC that she performed an autopsy on Mr Finnegan’s remains at Naas General Hospital on 3 and September 4, 2016.
The identity of the deceased was confirmed by his fingerprints, where the epidermis had slipped off his left middle finger and was recovered from the floor of the shallow grave, the court heard.
The witness said she visited Rahin Woods at 1:10 p.m. on September 3, where she saw leg bones protrude from the top of the earth. “The bones were practically gaunt and the body was in a fetal position with both knees bent over the chest and the back bent,” she explained. Mr. Finnegan’s body was removed in this position intact along with the surrounding soil to preserve it as much as possible.
Mr Finnegan’s head was partially covered with a protective vest in the grave and his right arm was covered with a blue t-shirt, which had melted onto the bulletproof vest.
In his opening speech, Mr Grehan said Mr Finnegan had “had some problems in the past” and had started wearing a protective vest.
The back of the t-shirt was pulled up above the head of the deceased and there was a watch around the left wrist that showed the correct time. No clothing was found on the lower body and a number of tattoos could be identified despite the advanced decomposition of the remains.
The court heard that forensic anthropologist Ms Lorraine Buckley, who is a bone expert, had been brought in to assist Dr Bolster as all the flesh on the body was missing and the remains were skeletonized. Mrs. Buckley had established that the body was a man.
Dr Bolster said attempts were made to cut up the body.
The head was separated from the neck bone at the level of the fourth cervical vertebra. “The neck bone had been dislocated and it appeared to be cut,” Dr Bolster said, adding that any sharp object like a saw or an ax could have been used.
There were also extensive burn marks to the upper part of the left shoulder, the palm of the left hand, along the upper part of the left arm and the left forearm.
There were 13 stab wounds to the body, including one to the stomach and liver and another extending into the aorta, which was 11.2 cm deep. The majority of stab wounds were to the deceased’s back, but others included the right earlobe, left forearm, left elbow joint, and left cheek.
In his testimony, Dr Bolster said there were two cuts to his left hand and stab wounds to the arm, which suggested defensive injuries.
A toxicology report showed that both diazepam and cannabis were present.
Dr Bolster stressed that it was impossible to establish the time of death due to the advanced decomposition and burning of the body.
In conclusion, the witness said that efforts were made to get rid of the body by cutting it up. The body was also burned and buried in a shallow grave.
Dr Bolster said Mr Finnegan’s cause of death was impossible to establish with absolute certainty, but in his opinion it involved multiple stab wounds to the body, including two fatalities to the liver and aorta.
Forensic anthropologist Ms Lorraine Buckley, who specializes in skeletal remains, told Mr Grehan that she noticed a strong smell of ammonia, which was probably coming from urine, when the body was removed from the ground at Rahin Woods. The witness stated that she also smelled of burning, “a smell of smoke”.
Ms Buckley took an x-ray of the bones at Naas General Hospital to help determine the body was male. No bullet was identified.
She said the legs and feet were almost completely skeletonized and the muscles in the anterior chest wall had broken down so that the ribs were visible.
The trial continues Friday before Judge Owens and a jury of eight men and four women.
In his opening speech, Mr Grehan said the jury would hear evidence that a bloodied glove had been found in the woods, which matched the DNA of the accused Mr Penrose.
Evidence was also provided that Mr Penrose’s phone was connected to a cell site near the area where the victim’s body was found.
Mr Penrose gave up what was his second legal team on Tuesday and continues to refuse to attend his trial, which is in its fourth week before the Central Criminal Court.