A man’s corpse lay underneath a duvet, totally undetected, for a staggering two decades and was only discovered when pest control stumbled across the skeletal remains.
The agents had been called into a boarded up property in Mallow, Co Cork, Ireland, to clamp down on a rat problem, but on closer inspection found the remains of late Tim O’Sullivan, who is thought to have died in January 2001.
Mr O’Sullivan’s body was found to be in a skeletal and part “mummified” condition on inspection in the post-mortem, and it was only a positive dental match with a local clinic which confirmed his identity, according to Gardai.
Two Cork County Council workers had initially been tasked with changing the lock so Rentokil could get inside to get rid of the rats. Unable to breach the lock, Paul O’Donoghue, from the council, resulted in kicking the door in to gain entry, the inquest heard.
The first signs were a “considerable” amount of post and leaflets left on the inside of the porch in the property, which prompted the decision for Mr O’Donoghue to do a “quick sweep of the property”.
On entry, he spotted a bedroom on the left. He told the inquest: “I could see a bed in the middle of the floor. I then saw a shape of legs under the duvet, and a coat laid on top. I realised it was a human body.”
He then went back outside to his colleagues on the street, where he spoke about his suspicions of seeing a body on the bed. He added: “They followed me in.
“We then observed with a lamp that it was a body. Mick Carroll (his colleague) then contacted the Gardai. I did not know who lived in this house. I never observed anyone entering or leaving his house.”
Garda Siobhan Costello of Mallow Garda Station was one of the first officers on the scene following the grim discovery, the Irish Mirror reports.
She said: “I entered the front room and immediately turned left into what looked like a bedroom. There I observed a body in a skeletal manner laid on a bed. It had a blanket laid over it. All that was visible to the eye was the head and everything else was covered by a blanket.”
According to the Irish Mirror, GP Dr Marian Donovan was called to officially pronounce the death of the man. From there, the body was brought into the morgue at Cork University Hospital so a post-mortem examination could go ahead.
Sgt Eileen Kelly of Mallow Garda Station revealed the extent of documentation which was sifted through to confirm Mr O’Sullivan’s identity.
She found receipts from the dentist, a memorial card from 1980, a Tesco receipt from January 9, 2001 and an AIB book in the name of Timothy O’Sullivan.
A diary was also found with entries from January 9, 10 and 11, 2001. In one of the diaries Mr O’Sullivan had noted that he had gone to Tesco “for the first time”.
Social welfare records also showed that Mr O’Sullivan had claimed Job Seekers Allowance from October 4, 2000 to January 23, 2001.
But this was closed automatically from January 23, 2001 after he had failed to collect three payments in a row. This is automatically done by the system when a series of payments go uncollected in the post office.
Mr O’Sullivan had missed collection on January 9, 16 and 23, 2001. Coroner Dr Michael Kennedy said that in all probability Mr O’Sullivan, who was born in Cahirsiveen in Co Kerry in 1939, had died in the property on a date unknown between January 9 and 23, 2001.
Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster gave an account of her post-mortem findings and said the remains were “totally skeletal except for some mummification”.
She reassured a nephew of the deceased who was present in court for the inquest that no evidence of trauma or fracture was identified.
Dr Bolster said that there was no suggestion that the late Tim O’Sullivan died in any manner other than “peacefully” in his bed. While no cause of death could be determined there was no suggestion of foul play.
A statement was read in to the record from Maureen O’Sullivan who is a sister of the deceased. She said that the late Tim O’Sullivan hailed from a family of five. She stated that Tim was the first born of the children with all of his other siblings being UK nationals.