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Man's body lay undiscovered in bed for 22 years until council investigated rats in property

The body of a man lay undetected for 20 years, until a council worker found it while letting pest control into a house due to a rat infestation.

The corpse - which was decomposed to skeletal remains - was found at a boarded-up terraced house. The man's identity was later confirmed after dental records were matched with those at a local surgery.

The grim discovery of Tim O'Sullivan's remains by pest control happened in Mallow, Co Cork in Ireland, with Gardai called.

Cork County Council workers found the skeleton under a duvet on a bed after the local authority was contacted about the vermin infestation. They had been sent out to change the lock so Rentokil gained access. Council worker Paul O'Donoghue was forced to kick the door in, an inquest has heard.

Once inside, he noticed a large amount of post and leaflets as he entered, and decided to do a “quick sweep” of the property, including the bedrooms, reports the Irish Mirror.

Describing what he saw in a room to his left, he said: “I could see a bed in the middle of the floor. I then saw a shape of legs under the duvet, and a coat laid on top. I realised it was a human body.

"I went out to my colleagues on the street and I said, 'I’m not 100 percent sure but I think I saw a body on the bed.’ They followed me in. We then observed with a lamp that it was a body. Mick Carroll (his colleague) then contacted the gardai. I did not know who lived in this house. I never observed anyone entering or leaving his house.”

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Police officer Siobhan Costello of Mallow Garda Station attended at the scene after the council reported the shocking discovery.

She told the inquest: "I entered the front room and immediately turned left into what looked like a bedroom. There I observed a body in a skeletal manner laid on a bed. It had a blanket laid over it. All that was visible to the eye was the head and everything else was covered by a blanket.”

Garda Costello said the scenes of crime officers were contacted to attend the scene, and a local doctor was called to officially pronounce the death of the man. The body was subsequently taken to the Cork University morgue for a post mortem.

Sgt Eileen Kelly said in her evidence that she searched through documents found in an effort to identify the deceased.

She discovered receipts from a dental practice, a receipt from Tesco from January 9, 2001, an AIB book in the name of Timothy O’Sullivan and diary entries from January 9, 10 and 11, 2001. In one of the diaries Mr O’Sullivan had noted that he had gone to Tesco “for the first time".

Investigators found that Mr O’Sullivan had been in receipt of Job Seekers Allowance from October 4, 2000 to January 23, 2001., with his claim closed automatically from January 23, 2001 as he failed to collect three payments in a row at the post office. Mr O’Sullivan had missed collection on January 9, 16 and 23, 2001.

Coroner Dr Michael Kennedy said that in all probability, Mr O'Sullivan who was born in 1939, had died in the property on a date unknown between January 9 and 23, 2001.

Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster said that the remains were “totally skeletal except for some mummification", in her account of the post mortem.

Officers were called from Mallow Garda Station following the horrifying discovery.
Officers were called from Mallow Garda Station following the horrifying discovery.

A nephew of the deceased who was present in court for the inquest was reassured that there was no evidence of trauma or fracture, and that it appeared that Mr O’Sullivan had died "peacefully" in his bed. Although no cause of death could be determined, there was no suggestion of foul play.

A statement from the deceased's sister, Maureen O’Sullivan, said that the late Tim O’Sullivan was from a family of five. She said he was the eldest of the children, with all of his other siblings being UK nationals.

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