Body found on Welsh beach over 30 years ago finally identified as missing Irish dad Joseph Brendan Dowley
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Body found on Welsh beach over 30 years ago finally identified as missing Irish dad Joseph Brendan Dowley

THE body of a man washed ashore in Wales more than three decades ago has finally been identified as missing Irishman Joseph Brendan Dowley.

The 63-year-old was last seen alive by his daughter in October 1985 when she dropped him off at a bus station in his native Kilkenny.

From there, Mr Dowley was due to travel on to Dublin and take a ferry to Wales before returning to London, where he had been living at the time.

On November 9, 1985, an RAF airman running along Rhosneigr beach in Anglesey discovered a man's body washed ashore.

Police launched an extensive investigation but were unable to identify the remains, which were buried in an unmarked grave in nearby Menai Bridge Cemetery.

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Now 33 years later, the latest DNA technology has been used to successfully identify Mr Dowley after his remains were exhumed in June.

Retired garda Alan Dowley and inset, his father Joseph Brendan Dowley (Image: RTE News)

The new investigation was led by Detective Sergeant Don Kenyon of North Wales Police in conjunction with the Garda Missing Persons Bureau.

Speaking today, DS Kenyon said: "We have received a very positive result from the familial DNA analysis of the remains exhumed from Menai Bridge Cemetery.

"The DNA report has been sent to HM Coroner Mr Dewi Pritchard Jones, who has already been provided with a full file of evidence in relation to the case of missing person Joseph Brendan Dowley.

"Mr Dowley's family have been kept updated with this most recent development and Mr Pritchard Jones will now consider the entirety of the case to establish if there is sufficient evidence to make a formal identification".

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The exhumation followed an investigation as part of Operation Orchid - a scheme under which Welsh detectives use pioneering DNA techniques to help identify historic human remains.

Speaking last week, Mr Dowley's son, retired Garda Alan Dowley, revealed DNA samples extracted from the remains were a "one in a billion" match with his family.

DS Kenyon added: "We combine the latest advances in DNA technology and traditional investigative methods to help conclude inquiries started years ago to help bring some closure to families who have lived with uncertainty for such a long time.

"Criminality is not suspected in any of the cases and the focus of the operation is simply to identify, reunite and allow the dignity of a funeral service for family and friends to pay their respects."