Belfast Telegraph

Body found on Wales beach in 1985 identified as missing Irish man

Police used the latest DNA technology to help identify the body, which was exhumed from an Anglesey cemetery, as Joseph Brendan Dowley from Kilkenny.

A body found on a beach in Wales 33 years ago has been identified as a 63-year-old man from Ireland.

The body of Joseph Brendan Dowley, from Kilkenny, was found washed ashore at Rhosneigr on Anglesey by an RAF airman who was running on the beach on November 9 1985.

Despite an extensive police investigation at the time, attempts to identify the man failed and a subsequent inquest returned an open verdict.

The death was not treated as suspicious and the man was subsequently interred in an unmarked grave in Menai Bridge Cemetery on Anglesey.

An investigation by the Garda missing persons bureau and North Wales Police led to the body being exhumed on June 19.

At the time of the exhumation the remains were believed to be those of Mr Dowley, who had been living in London and was last seen in October 1985 when he was driven to a ferry terminal by a relative.

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The body of Joseph Brendan Dowley, from Kilkenny was identified by police in Wales 33 years after his remains were discovered on a beach (North Wales Police/PA)

Detective Sargent Don Kenyon, of North Wales Police, who is leading the operation, said: “We have received a very positive result from the familial DNA analysis of the remains exhumed from Menai Bridge Cemetery.

“The DNA report has been sent to HM Coroner Mr Dewi Pritchard Jones, who has already been provided with a full file of evidence in relation to the case of missing person Joseph Brendan Dowley.

“Mr Dowley’s family have been kept updated with this most recent development and (Mr) Pritchard Jones will now consider the entirety of the case to establish if there is sufficient evidence to make a formal identification.”

The exhumation followed an investigation under Operation Orchid where detectives in Wales use the latest DNA technology to help identify human remains.

DS Kenyon added: “We combine the latest advances in DNA technology and traditional investigative methods to help conclude inquiries started years ago to help bring some closure to families who have lived with uncertainty for such a long time.

“Criminality is not suspected in any of the cases and the focus of the operation is simply to identify, reunite and allow the dignity of a funeral service for family and friends to pay their respects.”

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