Grim discovery | 

Inside Dublin ‘drugs den’ where the body of murdered Tony Dempsey lay for days

When found, sources said Dempsey’s remains had decomposed to such a stage that an initial visual identification was no longer possible.

Residents said the body was initially kept outside

Victim Tony Dempsey

Photos taken the day the flat was handed over to the tenant

The flat came with a cooker, hob and fridge

Patrick O'ConnellSunday World

These are the first photos of the interior of the inner-city “drugs den” where the decomposing remains of murdered Tony Dempsey lay unreported by addicts for up to 10 days.

The pictures, taken on April 9, 2021, the day a recovering heroin addict was moved into the Kevin Barry House flat by the Peter McVerry Trust, show how the small ground floor apartment was in pristine condition when handed over.

The decision to house the woman in the flat came a month after she gave a media interview in which she told how she was living homeless in a tent by the side of the Grand Canal.

But the woman, who said she had been taking heroin since she was a teenager, relapsed and the flat became a drug den for users to buy, sell and shoot up.

Photos taken the day the flat was handed over to the tenant

Murdered 28-year-old Tony Dempsey, who hailed from Inchicore in south Dublin, is understood to have been one of the users who regularly visited the flat.

The former Rattigan gang associate’s remains were discovered by gardai on the floor of the flat off Coleraine Street, Dublin at approximately 6.20pm on Monday.

Gardaí believe Dempsey, who had suffered fatal head injuries in an assault, was killed by someone he knew in a drug-related row and may have lain dead in the property for as long as 10 days.

When found, sources said Dempsey’s remains had decomposed to such a stage that an initial visual identification was no longer possible.

Residents living above the flat where the remains were discovered said this week they had complained of a stench of decomposition and black flies coming up from the rear veranda of the flat for several days prior to the grim discovery.

One resident told us: “For three days, the smell was absolutely horrific. And it was coming straight up from the balcony area at the back of that flat.

“It was a real dead smell – worse than anything any of us have ever smelled out of the sewers.

“One of my relatives came over and I told him to go out and smell it. I actually said to him: ‘There must be a dead body or something down there.’

“I said it but I never thought for one second it was a human being. And there were flies all over the balconies at the back of our flats.

“They reckon he had been there for a week and half, the poor lad. It was under our nose.”

Two residents of the flat complex who spoke to the Sunday World this week said they had been told the remains had been kept under blankets in the enclosed veranda for several days before being moved back inside the flat.

“They put him out there and put two blankets over him but afterwards they must have brought him back in again,” one of the residents said.

Victim Tony Dempsey

“Because he was inside on the floor when they [the gardaí] found him.” In the wake of the discovery of Mr Dempsey’s remains on Monday, the Peter McVerry Trust said it was aware the tenant had been “struggling to manage the front door” and that, as a result, staff visits to the property increased.

The trust also said efforts had been made to support the client to surrender the tenancy and accommodate them elsewhere.

The charity’s CEO, Pat Doyle, said: “Staff visited the property daily, including over the weekend, and they had no indication or evidence that someone was deceased at the property or in the vicinity.”

There is no suggestion that the tenant is suspected in any way of being involved in the murder.

Despite the charity’s assurances the property was being monitored, separate long-term residents of the block who spoke to the Sunday World expressed anger and frustration with the McVerry Trust, saying the drug use at the property had been going on for months.

One resident told this newspaper there was a steady stream of drug users calling to the property stretching into the early hours of the morning, and numerous complaints had been made to Dublin City Council to that effect.

“Some of the people coming and going looked like something out of the living dead,” one resident told this newspaper.

Another resident questioned whether the McVerry representative who visited the property at the weekend had noticed the appalling smell or the abundance of flies when visiting the property.

The deceased man, Tony Dempsey, was known to gardai.

Although not considered a gangland figure, he was suspected by gardai of moving small amounts of drugs for Brian Rattigan’s gang in the Basin Street flats area of the capital’s north inner city.

In 2017, he had come under threat from the gang over a minor drug debt.

The flat came with a cooker, hob and fridge

Dempsey also had a number of convictions for violent assaults, including one dating back to 2018 when he was convicted of an assault in which a man’s ears were bitten off.

On that occasion, the court heard Dempsey had 46 previous convictions for a range of offences, including dangerous driving, not having insurance, criminal damage, public order, misuse of drugs, possession of a knife and possession of an explosive substance.

Despite the extent of Dempsey’s criminal record, gardaí were also aware that he had come from a difficult background.

The court was told he had spent three quarters of his life either in care or incarcerated. He was placed in care 10 times in 10 years as a child.

In recent years, Dempsey’s life was further blighted by personal tragedy. Both his mother and sister Chloe passed away in the past two years.

This week, Marissa Ryan, CEO of Epic, a children’s rights organisation that advocates with and for children and young people in State care and aftercare, said: “Too many young people leave care and fall into precarious circumstances, often due to trauma experienced as children, We must do better.”

When gardai and paramedics arrived at the flat on Monday evening, a number of people were present inside.

A murder probe was launched after it became apparent Tony Dempsey had been badly assaulted and had sustained fatal head injuries as a result of that assault.

It is not yet known if a weapon was used.

As part of the probe, gardai have interviewed all those who were present in the flat at the time of the grim discovery and are also seeking to trace all those who visited the apartment over the previous 10 days.

Gardai have also harvested CCTV from the flat complex and nearby buildings.

Dempsey was well liked among those that knew him.

Posting on social media this week, a family member wrote: “I feel helpless.

“I hope the dirty scum rot and are caught very fast.

“The amount of people [coming] in and out of that flat had to have seen something.

“Please come forward. We deserve the answers so he can rest in peace and our family have closure.

“It’s just not fair at all. It won’t bring him back but we will get justice for you.”

Investigating gardai are appealing for anyone with any information in relation to this matter to contact Bridewell Garda Station on 01 6668200, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111, or any Garda station.

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