Phelan was 'beaten to death and put in a barrel'

A murdered pregnant nanny was beaten to death and her body put in a barrel and buried, sources have confirmed.

A post mortem showed the body of Aoife Phelan, 30, had been found by garda search teams during excavation at the back of a property in Portlaoise, Co Laois yesterday.

A murder suspect re-arrested last night over her killing remained in custody today in the town.

Gardai said a post mortem confirmed she died in violent circumstances.

It is understood she had been badly beaten before her body was put into an old metal barrel and put in a pit. It was later covered over.

The 24-year-old man being questioned over the killing was detained several hours after Ms Phelan’s body was dug up from a yard at the back of a house on the outskirts of Portlaoise yesterday afternoon.

Ms Phelan was four months pregnant when she vanished two weeks ago after meeting a friend and leaving a house on Colliers View in the town.

The suspect, who knew the dead woman, was first arrested on Monday and released without charge just over 24 hours later.

He was questioned on both occasions under section four of the Criminal Justice Act.

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