Girl arrested over murder of Laois man released without charge

Man in his 30s remains in custody over killing of 56-year-old William Delaney

Brothers and sisters John Paul, Ann-Marie, Bridget(wife), Mary Theresa, and Thomas Delaney, all relatives of William Delaney can be seen close to the rock of Dunamase in Co Laois. Photograph: James Forde/ The Irish Times

Brothers and sisters John Paul, Ann-Marie, Bridget(wife), Mary Theresa, and Thomas Delaney, all relatives of William Delaney can be seen close to the rock of Dunamase in Co Laois. Photograph: James Forde/ The Irish Times

 

A teenage girl arrested in connection with the murder of a father of eight living in Portlaoise has been released without charge, gardaí said.

The girl, who was being questioned since Thursday at Tullamore, Co Offaly about the killing of 56-year-old William Delaney, was freed from custody on Saturday morning.

A file is being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.

A man in his 30s, also detained on Thursday and being questioned at Portlaoise, Co Laois, remains in Garda custody.

The male suspect has been a central person of interest to investigators for months.

He had recently spent time abroad and was arrested in the midlands when he re-emerged there this week after a long period overseas.

The last confirmed sighting of Mr Delaney was on January 31st. He was not reported missing for about another six weeks as he had taken time away on his own in the past, meaning his absence did not initially cause concern.

While his disappearance was treated as a missing persons inquiry for a number of months, the case has now been upgraded by the Garda to a murder probe.

Gardaí believe Mr Delaney was killed by a person known to him over a personal matter and a suspect has been identified.

After receiving information that he had been tortured and murdered and then buried in a shallow grave in the shadow of the ruins of Dunamase Castle outside Portlaoise, gardaí began a major search operation on Tuesday.

Units from the Garda and Defence Forces searched the site just off the main Portlaoise to Stradbally road throughout Friday. A Garda spokeswoman confirmed on Saturday that the search has “ceased for now”.

Mr Delaney’s wife, brothers and sisters visited the scene briefly on Friday morning and spoke of their heartache as they waited for news. They were all holding posters appealing for the safe return of Mr Delaney. As they spoke, a drone flew overhead capturing aerial footage of the scene.

Through the morning a team of about 40 gardaí and troops carefully combed the 30-acre site looking for Mr Delaney’s remains or any signs the earth had been disturbed.

However, gardaí believe he was killed around the time of the last confirmed sighting.

Sources added that because any disturbed earth would have settled and significant growth may have taken place on it in recent months, signs of a burial may not be obvious.

The Irish Times understands the information the search is based on came from a teenage girl who claims a man known to her confessed to the murder of Mr Delaney. That information came to the attention of the missing man’s family who passed it onto the Garda.

The teenage girl has since been interviewed by the Garda and it was decided to search around Dunamase Castle for the remains of Mr Delaney.

Mr Delaney’s son John Paul, who was also present close to the search site on Friday morning, had previously told Midlands 103 radio station he had received a phone call from a woman who claimed her brother had admitted killing Mr Delaney after torturing him.

He said this woman had told him a man she was close to claimed to have buried the body in a shallow grave near the Rock of Dunamase.

He said this woman made a statement at a Garda station on Tuesday about the disappearance of Mr Delaney, who was originally from Co Tipperary and was living in the Fieldbrook estate in Portlaoise.