It’s been a week now since I contacted Gardai to ask for a response to allegations that the only sketch of a suspect in the brutal, unsolved murder of RTE set designer Charles Self has ‘went missing’ from detective files.
I was told by the press office that my query had been passed to the investigating officers and I would receive a response in ‘due course’.
I don’t know exactly what time frame ‘due course’ is in the books of An Garda Siochana, but given that it is coming up to the 35th anniversary of Charles’ horrific killing (which no one has even been arrested for) and the continued distress those close to him still feel at not only his loss but also the subsequent failure to find his killer, you’d think the gards would be keen to address such a serious claim quickly.
Hopefully this week I’ll be able to update both Charles’ friend Bill, who was shown the drawing in 1982, and others, with an official Gardai response to this serious allegation. In the meantime the story from last week’s Irish Daily Star is in full below.
By Patricia Devlin
THE only sketch of a suspect in the brutal murder of RTE man Charles Self has gone missing from garda files, it’s been claimed.
Bill Maher, a friend of the English-born set designer, says detectives have told him the drawing, given to gardai by a man present in the house the night he was killed, can’t be located.
Mr Maher, 60, said he was only told the news after repeated requests to see the artist’s sketch again over 30 years after the January 1982 killing.
“Gardai said they don’t have it, it can’t be located,” Mr Maher said last night. “They say there’s nothing recorded about it any statements given at the time. But I was shown it, as were a number of other people.
“It was drawn by Charles’ friend who was proud of how well he recalled the man’s face.”
The sketch was made by RTE man’s colleague Berty Tyrer, who’d stayed in Mr Self’s Monkstown home on the night he was killed.
He later told gardai how he’d returned and retired to bed at the Annesley Mews address before the 33 year-old returned from a night out.
During the early hours of the morning Berty said he was disturbed by a man who came into the bedroom where he was sleeping and said: “Sorry, wrong room,” and closed the door.
The next morning Mr Tyrer, who passed away in 1995, found Charles’ body lying in a pool of blood partly slumped against the front door.
He had been stabbed fourteen times and there were three slash wounds to his throat. A ligature had also been tied around his neck.
No-one has ever been convicted of Mr Self’s murder.
Mr Maher, who is the nephew of murdered Catholic priest Father Niall Molloy, says it was in the days following Charles’ death that gardai presented him with the sketch of a man with “curly black hair”.
“I didn’t recognise him and that was the last time I saw the drawing,” he said.
“When the cold case unit was set up some years later I mentioned the drawing to them, but they didn’t really want to talk about it then.
“I was told over a year ago the case had been reverted back to Dun Laoghaire garda station and that they’d be in touch.
“I didn’t hear from them again until around October/November time and I met with two detectives and I asked them again about the sketch.
“I said if they were doing an appeal, why not use the sketch? It’s the obvious thing.
“They rang me later to say that they had no record of the sketch and it’s not mentioned in my statement.
“But I was interviewed within 24 hours of Charles’ murder, it wouldn’t have been shown to me then, they wouldn’t have had it.
“They then said it could be in storage and they’d send someone to look for it.”
Mr Maher, who had met his friend for a drink the day before he was killed, was contacted again by detectives last week, ahead of a special Crimecall appeal set to be broadcast around the 35th anniversary of the murder.
“I asked them what the story was about the sketch, and they said, ‘we don’t have it, and there’s no record in any statements’.
“I told them name of the guy who had been dealing with at the time and to contact him, he would have been present at the time when I was shown it.
“Then I met with them for the Crimecall piece and they said there’s no record of it. It’s very peculiar.
“Either they have it, they don’t have it or they aren’t putting any effort into finding it.
“It’s frustrating and it’s left me quite angry. It shows how appallingly Charles’ case has been handled.”
Gardai have yet to respond to various requests for comments over Mr Maher’s claims.
In 2008 the murder case was given priority by the Garda’s Serious Crime Review Team and Detective Sergeant Alan Bailey, who has since retired, was placed in charge of it.
He reviewed the case files and found that it was widely accepted at the time that Charles had been killed by a rent boy he had picked up in town and who had never been identified.
Mr Self had spent the earlier part of the night of January 20 that year drinking in known gay haunts in Dublin and was in celebratory mood having got a promotion in work.
He left Bartley Dunnes pub on South William Street at around 11.30pm and walked to a takeaway restaurant on Burgh Quay.
Shortly after midnight, he was seen in the vicinity of the public toilets on Burgh Quay by two different witnesses, but when he hailed a taxi on nearby Eden Quay he was in the company of a 25-year-old ‘fair haired’ male dressed in a two-piece suit.
A taxi driver later said the two became ‘amorous’ in the back of his cab before being dropped off at Mr Self’s home. Despite appeals, this man has never been identified.
His description is also very different to that of the man described by Mr Tyrer, who discovered his friend’s body.
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