Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

Treatment of family in Amsterdam shredded body case 'inhuman'

A mother yesterday claimed that inaction by the Dutch police meant that her son's body -- which had been spotted floating in a canal -- was subsequently shredded by a barge propeller.

It meant that the family of Paul Nolan-Miralles (36) were forced to spend three days searching for his body parts in the Amsterdam canal, Dublin Coroner's Court heard yesterday.

His sister described the family's experience as "inhuman".

State Pathologist Professsor Marie Cassidy said she had never seen a family "treated in such a manner" in 30 years in her job.

Mr Nolan-Miralles, originally from Clonsilla in Dublin 15, had been living in Amsterdam for 10 years, working part-time as a photographer.

He went missing in the early hours of April 13, last year, following drinks with colleagues from the Hard Rock Cafe where he had been working.

The alarm was raised later that day but under Dutch law a person is only considered missing after 48 hours.

Members of his family including his mother, Rosario Nolan, and sister, Anne Ravanona, travelled to the city on hearing of his disappearance.

Ms Nolan told the court that she knew her son was dead because he was "not the type to disappear".

She said that on the morning of April 18, she was standing at the canal outside the Hard Rock Cafe waiting for the police to arrive when she saw her son's intact body float to the surface.

The following day, restaurant staff saw the body in the water again. Two policemen were within arm's reach.

"If the police had stretched a little bit they could have secured the body. They did not do that and they did not stop the (canal) traffic and therefore my son's body was shredded," she said.

The family struggled to get Dutch police to continue searching and Ms Ravanona said that it was only after a threat to start a private search that they agreed to do so.

Dutch police also failed to retrieve crucial CCTV footage from a casino opposite the site where the deceased is believed to have gone into the water. No witnesses who saw what happened came forward and the body was identified using DNA sampling.

State pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy carried out a post-mortem on the body's return to Ireland but said it was not possible to determine a cause of death.

In the absence of any evidence indicating how Mr Nolan-Miralles ended up in the water, Coroner Dr Brian Farrell returned an open verdict. He will also write to the Dutch authorities reflecting the concerns of the family.

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