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'It's devastating after all these years': Family of man beaten to death in Dublin shed seek answers

Felix McCann was murdered in January 1998. No one has ever been charged over his killing.

The area of Sandyford where Felix was last seen. His body was found in a shed on the Kilgobbin Road.
The area of Sandyford where Felix was last seen. His body was found in a shed on the Kilgobbin Road.
Image: Google Earth

ON 22 JANUARY 1998, the body of 48-year-old Felix McCann was found in a disused shed in Sandyford, Co Dublin.

The man had been badly beaten. Cause of death was a laceration to his brain caused by a blunt instrument, but he also had a number of fractures to his skull. Felix was found with his trousers and underwear around his ankles. His pockets were turned inside-out.

The murder of Felix McCann has received little media coverage in the almost 20 years since he was killed. Earlier this year, the Traveller man was one of the profiles featured in TheJournal.ie‘s series on unsolved murders, but at the time we were unable to track down family, friends or anyone who knew the man to speak about him.

Now the McCann family, most of whom live in the UK, have spoken publicly for the first time about his murder in the hope that they can finally get answers to the questions they have been asking for almost two decades.

Margaret McCann never knew her uncle, but said her father had been very close to him.

“The family, they never stop talking about him so I know quite a lot about him,” she told TheJournal.ie. “It’s been upsetting that nobody knew who it was and why. He was well-known everywhere as a nice easy-going person.”

Her father Michael said Felix suffered from bouts of poor mental health.

“He would get bad with his nerves and he would go from England over to Ireland to sort his mind out, do a bit of work over there,” he said.

Ireland was a kind of safe haven for Felix. His mother and father had grown up and lived here, he had some family he could stay with and it was a place where he could clear his head when he felt things were getting on top of him.

His family said he was always in better form when he returned to England after his trips to Ireland. But he never returned from that final visit in January 1998.

On the night he was killed, Felix got into a taxi in Sallynoggin village at about 11pm accompanied by another man who got out in Dun Laoghaire.

He was last seen with a third man later described as being 5’8″ in height with untidy hair and wearing a black anorak which was too big for him – in the Leopardstown Road area at 1.35am.

It is believed he was killed at 2.15am. His body was found in the shed on Kilgobbin Road that morning.

‘It was terrible’

“I was close to him. We were all close,” Michael said of his brother.

He first learned that Felix had been murdered when a nephew who was over in Ireland at the time saw the news on television in his hotel room, and heard Felix’s name.

“Otherwise, I’m not sure how we would have known about it, it’s lucky my nephew was there. The whole family was terribly shocked, it was terrible, and terrible not knowing what happened or who did it.”

It was believed that Felix was a rough sleeper because he was found in a shed that was frequently used by homeless people. However, Margaret said he never slept rough and had always had money on him, which he had earned doing manual labour like paving in England.

“He had family that he used to stay with, we could never understand that, he definitely wasn’t homeless. He was a very proud man, no way would he be the type of person to sleep rough. Everyone was shocked he was found there,” his niece said.

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‘It’s devastating’

Margaret spoke of the absence of appeals in Felix’s case, and said none of the man’s siblings can read or write, which had prevented them from pushing authorities in Ireland or from launching their own campaign.

“That’s why you couldn’t track them down,” she said. “Nobody knew even at the time that he had been killed, only for my cousin being over there.”

“It’s devastating after all these years that nobody actually knows that happened. For such a proud person to be found in a place like that where people were sleeping tough. To be honest, to me it seems like it was made to look that way, because that’s not him. Did they try to make him look like he was a homeless nobody?”

In the days after his death, there was a specific appeal for two foreign women who got a taxi at Chatham Street to Sandyford at 1.15am. One of them was dropped at the Sandyford crossroad at around the same time the victim was last seen in that area, and walked along Kilglobbin Road, where Felix was murdered.

A number of people were arrested at the time, but no one has ever been charged in relation to the killing.

“It would be nice to know, to get them off the streets,” Michael said.

“You never know, you could pass by this person in the street and you wouldn’t know. Someone else’s son or daughter, someone else’s family member could be killed by this person.”

This case remains open and anyone with information can contact Crimestoppers in confidence on 1800 25 00 25.

Read: The unsolved case of Felix McCann: Savagely beaten to death in a south Dublin shed>

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