Questions over Fr Niall Molloy’s ‘staged body’ cast doubts over his death
7th September 2021
A priest’s bloodied body appeared to have been dragged eight feet across a bedroom before it was discovered by gardaí, a documentary has revealed.© Provided by Extra.ie
A two-part documentary by RTÉ – The Killing of Fr Niall Molloy – raises the possibility that the killer staged the priest’s body hours before gardaí were called.
Huge mystery still surrounds the 1985 killing and a garda tells the documentary that the local parish priest asked him if they could keep the killing hushed up.© Provided by Extra.ie A two-part documentary by RTÉ – The Killing of Fr Niall Molloy – raises the possibility that the killer staged the priest’s body hours before gardaí were called. Pic: RTÉ
The first part of the two-part series aired on Monday night on RTÉ One and the second part, which will recreate the crime scene bedroom, will be broadcast next Monday night.
The documentary examines the highly debated killing of Fr Molloy at the home of his friends Richard and Teresa Flynn in Offaly in July 1985.
Fr Molloy was found dead at the end of a weekend wedding at the house.© Provided by Extra.ie Teresa Flynn. Pic: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie
It emerged that he and the Flynns came from wealthy backgrounds and invested in property and horses. Fr Molloy even had a business office in their huge country mansion.
Richard Flynn claimed to gardaí that he punched Fr Molloy in an argument about who should go downstairs to get more drink and that Fr Molloy died of a heart attack – a scenario largely dispelled by modern forensics.
There is also speculation that the killing was a result of a business dispute.© Provided by Extra.ie In the documentary, former state pathologist Professor Jack Crane says he believes that Fr Molloy lay dying for hours without anyone calling an ambulance. Pic: RTÉ
When gardaí and emergency services were called to the scene over six hours after the attack, they found Fr Molloy with head and face injuries and an eight-foot-long drag mark of blood across the carpet.
It appeared that the killer had dragged Father Molloy towards the bedroom door.
Fr Molloy’s nephew tells the documentary: ‘The evidence from the slides is that Niall took hours to die. He did not die suddenly from a heart attack, as we were led to believe.
‘It changes the whole scenario in my mind… if Niall is absolutely dead at one in the morning and it took him hours to die, well then he wasn’t assaulted at a quarter to one, he was assaulted a number of hours beforehand.’© Provided by Extra.ie Fr Molloy’s body was discovered in the master bedroom of Flynn’s home, Kilcoursey House, a 23-room manor. Pic: RTÉ
Fr Molloy’s body was discovered in the master bedroom of Flynn’s home, Kilcoursey House, a 23-room manor.
Former garda sergeant Kevin Forde, tells the documentary that the local parish priest called to see him in the middle of the night.
‘At 3.15am, there was a knock on the door and when I answered it, it was Fr Deignan, the parish priest. He told me that a priest was dead down at Flynn’s house.
He said it’s an awful scandal in the parish and: “I wonder is there any way that we can keep it quiet?”
‘I said: “It will have to be investigated anyway”,’ he recalls. It later emerged that Fr Deignan had already been called to Kilcoursey House to give the last rights to Fr Molloy, but didn’t know he was a priest.
Three years ago, the Garda Ombudsman issued a report on the garda handling of the case.© Provided by Extra.ie Huge mystery still surrounds the 1985 killing and a garda tells the documentary that the local parish priest asked him if they could keep the killing hushed up. Pic: RTÉ
It pointed out that it was precluded by law from investigating retired gardaí.
However, the ombudsman did find that the retention of files was wholly inadequate.
‘What has disturbed the commission is the fact that, despite extensive searches by garda personnel, it would appear that many original documents, and all the exhibits, could not be found, which may have assisted us in our enquiries,’ it said.
In the documentary, former state pathologist Professor Jack Crane says he believes that Fr Molloy lay dying for hours without anyone calling an ambulance.© Provided by Extra.ie Angela Doyle, Dr Ciara Staunton and Prof Jack Crane in the documentary. Pic: RTÉ
‘What we are not looking at is someone who has sustained an injury and died rapidly,’ he says.
‘To me, it suggests that there has been a period of survival, perhaps unconscious for maybe a couple of hours.
‘That rules out the fact that this is something to do with the heart.’
Mr Flynn was put on trial but it ended after just four hours when he was acquitted.
Judge Frank Roe had accepted that Fr Molloy could have suffered a heart attack and sustained his head injuries as he hit the floor.
However, an inquest a month later found that Fr Molloy had died from his head injuries