Man (73) charged with murder of Nora Sheehan in Cork over 40 years ago

Noel Long charged over death of mother of three whose body was found six days after her 1981 disappearance

A 73-year-old man has been charged with the murder of a woman whose body was found dumped in a wood in west Cork more than 40 years ago.

The body of Nora Sheehan (54), a mother of three, was found six days after she disappeared from outside a Cork hospital.

Noel Long, of Maulbaun, Passage West, Co Cork, was charged on Tuesday at Skibbereen District Court with the murder of Ms Sheehan at a place unknown and on a date unknown between June 6th and June 12th, 1981, contrary to common law.

Det Insp Eamonn Brady, of Macroom Garda station, gave evidence of arrest, charge and caution and told how he arrested Mr Long at his home at Maulbaun, Passage West, at 8.45am and conveyed him to Bandon Garda station for the purpose of charge.

Det Insp Brady then told the court that at 11.04am in Bandon, he charged Mr Long with the murder of Ms Sheehan and that Mr Long made no reply.

Sgt Paul Kelly said the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had directed trial by indictment at the Central Criminal Court while he had also consented to Mr Long being sent forward on a signed plea of guilty if he so consented.

Sgt Kelly said given that a person accused cannot apply for bail in the District Court, he was applying to have Mr Long remanded in custody to appear again at Clonakilty District Court on July 5th next.

Judge James McNulty remanded Mr Long in custody to appear again in Clonakilty on that date while he also granted Mr Long free legal aid after his solicitor, Eddie Burke, told the court his client was in receipt of a State pension.

Mr Burke said his client had several medical issues and asked Judge McNulty to request authorities at Cork Prison to ensure he receives all necessary medical treatment while on remand. Judge McNulty ordered that his list of medication be attached to the committal warrant.

Dressed in a black and grey lumber jacket, Mr Long, who had a neatly-trimmed brown goatee beard and shaved head, did not speak during the three-minute hearing other than to confirm his identity to Judge McNulty when the case was called.

Ms Sheehan, a mother of three sons, from Kilreendowney in Ballyphehane on Cork’s south side, disappeared from outside the South Infirmary Hospital in Cork city at 9.45pm on June 6th, 1981, after she attended the hospital’s emergency department for treatment for a dog bite to her arm.

Gardaí began an investigation into the disappearance and the body of Ms Sheehan was found six days later by forestry workers some 30km away at a place known as the Viewing Point in Shippool Woods near Innishannon in west Cork. A postmortem revealed she had died a violent death.

Almost six years ago, a Garda Serious Crime Review investigator established that there was real “potential” to progress the investigation into the death of Ms Sheehan and a serious crime review team have spent several years since examining the case.

A file on the killing of Ms Sheehan was submitted to the DPP, which this week instructed the review team to charge Mr Long with the murder of Ms Sheehan.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times