Coroner hears evidence of violent death of boy in 1973- by GEORGINA O’HALLORAN The Irish Times

By GEORGINA O’HALLORAN The Irish Times – Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A CORONER’S court heard disturbing evidence about the violent death of a seven-year-old boy found tied to the rafters in a neighbour’s attic 37 years ago, after a coroner took the unusual step of opening an inquest more than three decades after the event.

The body of the child, John Horgan, of Hollyville, Lucan Road, Palmerstown, Dublin was found in an attic of another house in Hollyville on June 14th, 1973 following a search, having been reported missing earlier that day.

State pathologist at the time, Dr Maurice Hickey, found the boy died from a fracture of the skull and bruising and laceration of the brain as a result of severe blunt force injury or injuries to the back of the head.

Dublin county coroner Dr Kieran Geraghty took the unusual step of opening an inquest into the death yesterday after his office was notified that a death certificate had never been issued.

The inquest heard the tragic discovery was made late on the night of June 14th, 1973.

“I went to the attic . . . where I saw the body of a young boy was tied to the rafters,” said Fr Richard Mulcahy, now deceased, in a statement read out in court.

Fr Mulcahy said Det Sgt James Noonan, of Ballyfermot Garda station, who was involved in the investigation into the death and who is now retired, pointed out a silver cup.

The statement from the priest read: “Det Sgt Noonan, who was in the attic at that time, pointed out to me a silver cup and I removed from this three hosts which I retained.”

The priest identified the body of the seven-year-old to the detective sergeant and then assisted him in removing the body from the attic.

Det Insp Richard McDonnell, of Lucan Garda station, said a male was arrested and was subsequently charged with the crime and served a custodial sentence.

As somebody had been charged and sentenced and was living outside the jurisdiction, the coroner said it would not be appropriate to hear the inquest in full without a request by the family or without good reason.

He adjourned the inquest sine die (with no date for resumption).

The coroner expressed his condolences to the family of John Horgan.

Speaking outside the court yesterday, retired Det Sgt Noonan said the boy was struck on the back of the head with a skittle on the day of the tragic discovery.

“It was a very sad case,” Det Sgt Noonan said.

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