Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Flatmate watched TV as rotting corpse of missing person lay in bathroom

Irish police found a man watching a match on TV in an apartment that contained the rotting corpse of a missing person, an inquest has heard.

Detective Garda Kieran Gallagher recalled being "overwhelmed" by the smell at the Ennis apartment that contained the remains of missing man Frankie Hassett (25) in July 2011.

Mr Hassett had been missing for almost three weeks and, on entering the apartment, gardai found Patrick Ballard watching a match on TV. When they went to the shower area, they found the remains of Mr Hassett under a plastic bin bag, Det Gda Gallagher told the coroner's court in Co Clare yesterday.

Mr Hassett had been missing since June 14 and the occupant of the flat, Bernard Flaherty (37), of Lifford Lodge, had twice told gardai that he did not know where Mr Hassett was.

Mr Flaherty escaped a jail term earlier this year after pleading guilty to wasting garda time by concealing Mr Hassett's body for 19 days.

At the inquest yesterday, he made a public apology to the Hassett family.

"I apologise to the Hassetts for putting them through hell and to the gardai for wasting their time . . . I pray for the Hassetts every night. If I could turn back the clock I would."

But Mr Hassett's brother Ian, who had to identify his body from his Celtic tattoo and wooden rosary beads, said that the Hassett family could not accept Mr Flaherty's apology.

"After all of the lies that he has told, we can't. If he had owned up at the start -- we are not blaming him for Frankie dying -- but if he told us all of the circumstances around how Frankie died, we would find things much easier."

Mr Hassett said that the family did not get justice in terms of the suspended jail term given to Mr Flaherty.

Assistant State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis said that Mr Hassett's remains were in a state of putrefaction and that his remains were removed from the apartment in body bags. The cause of death was undetermined.

In her verdict, County Coroner Isobel O'Dea said that the appropriate verdict was one of misadventure as there was evidence that Mr Hassett had taken a concoction of drugs before dying.

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