NewsCrime Desk

“I butchered sick rapist and dumped him in a lake” - suicide letter sparks hunt for remains

Crime DeskBy Patrick O'Connell
TWISTED RAPIST: James Nolan
TWISTED RAPIST: James Nolan

A GRUESOME suicide letter written this week sparked a two-day search of a lake in Co. Monaghan for the remains of a rapist whose severed arm was found at Dollymount Strand five years ago.

The Sunday World understands that a 20-page letter – in which a man claimed responsibility for the murder of Finglas man James Nolan – was sent to a relative of Nolan’s on Tuesday.

He passed the letter, which is understood to contain a shocking and graphic account of Nolan’s killing, including decapitation and subsequent dismemberment, to Carrickmacross Gardaí, sparking a major search.

The author took his own life after posting the letter.

Convicted rapist James Nolan’s arm was found washed up on Dollymount Strand in the capital on February 8, 2011.

The remainder of Nolan’s body has never been recovered.

In the letter, the man is believed to have described butchering Nolan before dumping some of his remains in Lough na Glack lake in Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan.

Gardaí believe the letter’s author became spooked after a search was carried out in the lake for the remains of a Polish national the previous week.

A source said: “The story is that he became spooked, thinking that the Gardaí were going to stumble across bits and pieces of James Nolan.

“He panicked, wrote up this 20-page letter and then killed himself in his apartment in Carrickmacross on Sunday night.”

The man’s remains were subsequently transferred to Drogheda Hospital, where a post-mortem was carried out.

In a statement, Gardaí confirmed to the Sunday World: “Gardaí in Monaghan are carrying out a number of searches in relation to information provided to them about the death of James Nolan.”

Gardaí have long suspected that Nolan’s death was linked to a money dispute with a close associate, who targeted the predator after he received a cash windfall following his release from prison.

But, should the contents of the letter be proven correct, it would now appear he was murdered by an individual he had known all his life and who was one of his closest associates.

Nolan had gone missing shortly after he was released from Portlaoise Prison in November 2010 after serving time for burglary.

He had also previously served a 14-year sentence when he was convicted of rape and false imprisonment in 1986.

Last year, State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy told Dublin Coroner’s Court the arm had been “cleanly” severed post-death using a sharp knife and tattoos had been cut from the skin to prevent his identification.

Lough na Glack lake in Carrickmacross

An inquest heard his severed arm was found by a man walking his dog.

Det. Insp. Paul Scott had also revealed that his identification was confirmed using a DNA sample taken from the arm which matched a DNA profile on a U.K. police database.

Nolan had been arrested at Holyhead in 2004 when he was found using a forged driving licence and a photograph, fingerprints and DNA were taken at the time.

The photograph and fingerprints were also cross-referenced with the Garda database to confirm his
identity.

Nolan’s last known whereabouts were when he collected methadone from the Wellmount Clinic in Finglas on November 30, 2010.

The court heard he had been attending the pharmacy since November 23 having been released from prison.

Professor Cassidy carried out the post-mortem at the Dublin city mortuary in Marino.

The arm had been dismembered at the shoulder and wrist. It had been “fairly cleanly cut”, she said, using a “very sharp implement”.

“A propeller can leave quite a clean mark on a body, but they are usually longer. These were very carefully and deliberately going around the whole circumference of the limb. It was deliberately cut,” she said.

Two large sections of skin had been removed from the victim’s upper arm and forearm, with the cuts “cleanly excised”.

Professor Cassidy said these appeared to be tattoos removed to prevent identification of the limb.

There was no evidence of any bleeding or blood loss into the tissues, indicating that Nolan was dead when the cuts were made.

The limb had been in the water for days “if not weeks”, said Cassidy.

She said she could not discount the possibility the arm had been in the water since Nolan went missing in November 2010.

A toxicology screen identified cocaine, methadone and sleeping tablet Zopiclone in the tissues, but the levels were unquantifiable, said Cassidy, and no comment could be made regarding the effects of the drugs on Nolan.

The inquest heard there was no cause of death and how Nolan had died had not been determined.

The rest of his body has not been recovered.

Det. Insp. Scott said the Garda diving unit had carried out an extensive search of the sea around Dollymount Strand, but had found nothing else.

The investigation into Nolan’s death remains open, he told the court.