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garda probe Man (60s) arrested in relation to death of woman found in burning car in Cork

The post mortem on the body of the deceased woman, Mary O'Keeffe (75) is currently ongoing.

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Gardaí near the scene where the woman was found dead in a car outside Doneraile in north Cork. Photo: Daragh McSweeney/Provision

Gardaí near the scene where the woman was found dead in a car outside Doneraile in north Cork. Photo: Daragh McSweeney/Provision

Gardaí near the scene where the woman was found dead in a car outside Doneraile in north Cork. Photo: Daragh McSweeney/Provision

A man (60s) has been arrested on suspicion of unlawful killing following the death of a widowed mother-of-three who was found in a blazing car in Cork.

He is currently detained at Fermoy Garda Station under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act 1984.

The post mortem on the body of the deceased woman, Mary O'Keeffe (75) is currently ongoing.

The man - who was known to Ms O'Keeffe - was last night in a stable condition in Cork University Hospital (CUH) having been rescued from the River Awbeg outside Castletownroche on Thursday afternoon.

He was being treated for hypothermia and is expected to make a full recovery.

The man is also understood to have minor burn injuries.

He has an address in south Limerick and has worked in the forestry industry.

The deceased was named locally as Mary O'Keeffe (75) of Dromahane, Mallow, Co Cork.

A mother of three, Mrs O'Keeffe was a widow whose husband Donal died over 20 years ago.

Gardaí stressed that the nature of their investigation will now be determined by the results of a post mortem examination commenced at CUH yesterday by Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster.

Dr Bolster examined the body at the Dromdeer scene before it was transferred to CUH after forensic experts from the Garda Technical Bureau had completed their work.

Gardaí sealed off an area surrounding both the burned out car and a second vehicle which was found parked a short distance away.

One garda source said their investigation will be complicated by the extreme damage caused by the car fire and the intense heat.

Such was the extent of the fire, the Dacia Duster was gutted back to the shell of its metal chassis.

Reports locally of a loud detonation around 4pm on Thursday have been explained as the fuel in the car exploding from the intense heat of the blaze.

Formal identification of the remains was expected to require dental records.

Gardaí are now investigating the precise cause of the blaze - and whether it was deliberate or may have been accidental through the inadvertent triggering of accelerants in the vehicle.

Central to their inquiry will be the precise cause of death involved. However, given the damage to the remains, this may take some time to establish.

Gardaí are also examining phone records as part of their inquiry.

North Cork locals admitted they were stunned by the tragedy.

Councillor Frank O'Flynn said people were "absolutely heartbroken" by the circumstances in which the pensioner's body was discovered.

Dromahane resident Ann O'Shea said she couldn't believe the news of Mrs O'Keeffe's death.

"I was only talking to her two days ago," she said.

"She was such a lovely woman - she lived around the corner from me and I've known her and her family for 48 years. She lived alone but that didn't bother her - she had her (beloved) dog."

"She loved dancing and I know she used to travel locally to listen to music and to dance - travelling to the Hazel Tree (hall) and the like. Years ago I used to also meet her playing cards up in Dromahane hall."

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