Three sentenced over dismembering of Irishman’s body
Remains of Keith Ennis cut up using chainsaw and dumped in Dutch canal in 2009
Keith Ennis (29) of Oakway in Clondalkin whose dismembered body was found in canal in Amsterdam in March 2009.
Police officers in Amsterdam. File photograph: George Pachantouris/Getty Images
Three Irish men convicted of dismembering and disposing of a fellow Irishman’s body in an Amsterdam canal eight years ago have been sentenced to two years in prison.
The three; Philip County (34) from Lucan, Co Dublin - who was said to be now in Brazil - Barry McArdle (31) and Kenneth Brunell (30) of Palmerstown, Co Dublin, were cleared of stabbing Keith Ennis to death in Rotterdam in 2009 due to lack of “any reliable technical or other evidence linking them to his murder”.
The 29-year-old drug dealer and trafficker from Clondalkin, Co Dublin, was most likely killed by criminals, the court decided.
The accused men were sentenced to two years imprisonment, the maximum penalty under Dutch law for mutilating and disposing of a body.
The men acted in a “horrific and disrespectful way” when they used a chainsaw to cut up the victim’s remains, Amsterdam Criminal Court heard on Monday.
County did not turn up for the 4-day trial last month, claiming he feared reprisals for his family in Dublin, whom he said had received a bullet in the post.
His co-accused, whose pre-trial custody had been suspended before and after the trial, travelled from Ireland on Sunday to hear of their acquittal.
Throughout their trial, lawyers for McArdle and Brunell claimed County was “up to his neck” in a plan to kill Ennis and tried to pin the brutal murder on them, claiming in statements they stabbed him to death during a violent row after the deceased pulled a knife first.
Both denied the charges, calling County a liar who had tried to set them up. They were all on the run in Holland from the gardaí, the trial heard and had stayed in the apartment rented by Ennis in Rotterdam, a known base for organising drugs transportations to Ireland.
Ennis had believed his life was in danger because former criminal associates in Dublin suspected he tipped off gardaí about a drugs factory after he was caught with cocaine, a firearm and €16,000 in cash in 2007.
The remains of Ennis, a father of one said to have links to the Kinahan drugs cartel, were fished out of the Ijmeer lake near Amsterdam more than a week after he went missing in Rotterdam in February 2009.
His body had been dismembered, the head covered in stab wounds, and hidden in a suitcase, while his upper and lower body were sawn off and stuffed in two plastic refuse bags.
There were fatal knife wounds to his neck and back.
Judge Jurjen Piena said the court was imposing the maximum penalty on the charge of mutilation and dumping the body due to the “horrific and disrespectful way in which the men handled Mr Ennis’s remains, acts that were extremely shocking for his relatives and all who came in contact with this case.”
But the court authorities later confirmed that neither County nor Brunell will serve any sentence on the conviction because their period in pre-trial custody far exceeded the jail term.
McArdle still has several months to serve but may appeal his conviction.
All three had been extradited from Ireland on a request from the Dutch authorities between 2011 and 2015 .
McArdle and Brunell were immediately freed and are due to return to Ireland with their families.
In a judgement delivered in Dutch and running to over 30 pages during the hour-long sitting, judges described the outcome as “extremely frustrating and unsatisfying”.
County had pointed to his co-accused McArdle and Brunell as the perpetrators.
His statements were in parts “rubbish” and there was nothing “to back them up” including decisive forensic evidence to determine who was responsible for the death of the victim.