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'Shock' in rural community as gardaí probe death of woman found in burning car

The remains were found inside the burning car by firefighters. A man was found nearby.

File photo
File photo
Image: Shutterstock/Stephen Barnes

A COUNCILLOR HAS spoken about shock in his community after the discovery of a woman’s body in a burning car.

The discovery was made at 4.30pm yesterday afternoon by members of the fire brigade in Drumdeer Wood near Doneraile in north County Cork.

Gardaí were called to the scene and following a search of the area a man, who is in his 60s, was rescued from the Awbeg river. He was taken to Cork University Hospital where he is understood to be in a serious condition.

The woman has been named locally as Mary O’Keeffe, 72, from Dromahane, near Mallow, Co Cork. Sources have confirmed that the man is known to the woman – he had suffered burn injuries.

Cllr Frank Roche was in the area when the incident happened and said that locals are deeply shocked by the horrific events.

“People are deeply shocked in the area, people are frightened and very worried at the moment. It is a rural area, mainly farmers and most people would know each other,” he told TheJournal.ie.

“Everyone is just shocked at what happened. I think people would view this as something that would happen somewhere else, it is hard to comprehend that it would happen here in Doneraile.

“The people involved are not from the immediate area but would be known locally – it is very upsetting for people,” he said.

Roche was working in the area and was passing by when he saw a large number of garda cars.

“I am an agriculture contractor and was driving a tractor when I saw an unmarked garda car. I thought it might have been a Covid-19 checkpoint but then I got closer to the river and saw about seven or eight garda cars with Fire Brigade tenders.

“There have been a lot of accidents on the road and I thought it might have been that but then I saw the guards looking down into the river.

“I saw a large presence in the woodland also and saw that there was a car burning. I just want to send my condolences and sympathies to the dead woman’s family, it is an awful tragedy,” he added.

Gardaí had sealed off the scene in the Coillte managed woodland, which is a popular location for hunting.

It is understood that there are two scenes, the first is at the woodland, where forensic investigations were continuing.

Gardaí are also carrying out a search of the area as they hunt for clues. There is a second scene at an undamaged car, understood to be owned by the man.

A source said they have established that the man, who is from near the Cork/Limerick border, knew Mary O’Keeffe and they had travelled to the area separately.

“Fire fighters arrived at the scene and saw the man in the area. When he was approached he ran from them and made his way to a river,” the source said.

“Gardaí went to help him and found him in the Awbeg, he had burns to his hands and face but due to being in the water he was suffering from hypothermia.

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“It is very early in the investigation, it is impossible to say what might have happened to the woman until forensics and a post mortem are complete.

“The most important aspect for detectives is to talk to the man in the hospital but there will also be a lot of forensic work which will form a significant part of the investigation,” the source said.

A garda spokesman has appealed to witnesses to come forward.

“Gardaí continue to investigate the circumstance surrounding the discovery of a body in Doneraile Co. Cork on February 4, 2021.

“Dr. Margaret Bolster has completed her examination of the scene this morning and the body has since been transferred to Cork University Hospital. A post mortem is scheduled to take place this afternoon. The gender and age of the deceased is still to be confirmed.

“The Garda Technical Bureau are continuing to carry out an examination of the scene and two vehicles.

“The man, aged in his 60s, who was rescued from the river continues to receive treatment in Cork University Hospital. His condition is believed to be stable.

“Gardaí are appealing for anyone who was in the Doneraile area between 3pm and 5pm, particular anyone with mobile phone footage or dashcam footage, to contact Fermoy Garda Station on 025-82100 or the Garda Confidential Line on 1800-666-111,” the spokesman said.

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