Man held following house death fire

Tue, Feb 19, 2013, 00:00

A man is expected to appear in court today in connection with the death of a woman whose body was found following a house fire at her home in Co Cork early on Sunday morning.

Detectives were continuing to question the man yesterday following his arrest on suspicion of murder in relation to the death of Olivia Dunlea O’Brien (36), a mother of three, whose body was found in an upstairs bedroom of her family home at Pembroke Crescent in Passage West, Co Cork.

The man, who was known to Ms Dunlea O’Brien, had been arrested at his home in Passage West at about 11pm on Sunday and detained at Togher Garda Station under section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act. He is expected to be brought before Cork District Court today.

Meanwhile, it emerged yesterday that suspicions were aroused regarding the circumstances of Ms Dunlea O’Brien’s death when Garda technical experts carried out a forensic examination of the remains of her semi-detached house after it was burned by fire.

Suspicions confirmed

The experts found separate fires started downstairs and upstairs, leading them to believe that it had been started deliberately. Their suspicions were confirmed when State Pathologist Prof Marie Cassidy carried out a postmortem.

The postmortem revealed that Ms Dunlea O’Brien had been stabbed a number of times in the upper body.

It is understood that gardaí believe she was already dead when her killer set fire to the bed in the main bedroom where she lay and later tried to start a second fire downstairs.

Gardaí have also recovered a knife which they believe was used in the killing. They have also established that Ms Dunlea O’Brien’s killer removed her car from the home, driving it to the Rochestown Inn 4km away, where it was parked before the keys were thrown away.

Garda technical teams have begun a forensic examination of Ms Dunlea O’Brien’s car along with a forensic examination of a car belonging to the suspect which they confiscated in Passage. They also seized some clothing belonging to the suspect for analysis.

Taxi driver

Detectives have spent the past 48 hours tracing Ms Dunlea O’Brien’s last known movements. They have spoken to a taxi driver from whom she and a male companion obtained a lift from the Rochestown Inn to her home in Passage West.

Ms Dunlea O’Brien, who was originally from Victoria Avenue in Ballinlough in Cork city, is survived by her children, Aaron, Megan and Darragh, their father Adrian and by her parents, Jimmy and Ann, and her sisters, Amanda and Anne.