Canal body confirmed as suspected IRA murder victim

DNA tests have confirmed that the body pulled from a canal in Northern Ireland was suspected IRA murder victim Gareth O’Connor, police revealed tonight.

His badly decomposed remains were found in a car on Saturday – two years after he vanished.

The father-of-two is believed to have been abducted after leaving his home in Armagh City in May 2003.

The 24-year-old bodybuilder, who was facing charges of membership of the dissident republican Real IRA, was on his way to Dundalk police station in the Irish Republic as part of bail conditions.

Claims that he was a police informer have been denied by his family, who insist the Provisional IRA murdered him.

Because the body had decomposed when it was taken from Newry Canal in Co Down, post-mortem tests failed to establish the identity or cause of death.

But a Police Service of Northern Ireland spokesman tonight said: “DNA tests have confirmed that the remains discovered were those of missing 24-year-old Armagh man Gareth O’Connor.

“Detectives from Crime Operations Department are continuing to actively investigate the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of Gareth O’Connor.

“It remains a major line of inquiry that he was murdered.”

Detectives also believe the car had been in the canal since Mr O’Connor vanished.

The IRA has denied killing him, leaving some to suspect that dissidents may have been involved.

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