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Scannal: Dean Lyons

Dean Lyons

In 2000 a young Dubliner called Dean Lyons was discovered dead in Manchester of a drug overdose. His death was, on the face of it, just another tragic end for another of Ireland's lost youth. Behind the all too familiar story of this young addict was one of the most bizarre and cruel incidence of murder and manipulation that left Dean Lyons inextricably linked to a slaughter he did not commit.

In the summer of 1997 two women, Mary Callinan and Sylvia Sheilds, were brutally slain in their home by a stranger. The murders took place in sheltered accommodation in a house attached to the hospital at Grangegorman on the north side of Dublin City. The Gardai and the public were shocked by the savagery of the attacks where a barbeque fork and various knives was used to kill the two women. The case created a lot of fear amongst the elderly and those living alone.

Despite all the blood at the scene the case did not proceed with any good leads. The police trawled all the local haunts and questioned addicts and known offenders in the area. One name kept coming up; that of a young addict called Dean Lyons. Dean had been talking openly about the case and the Gardai decided to routinely interview him.

When taken in to custody Dean confessed to the two murders. He did this readily but without any convincing detail. Two subsequent interviews showed a snowballing of confidence and accuracy, but these interviews were not taped like the first. Even one of the Gardai participating in the interview process doubted the reality of Dean's confession but his concerns were disregarded by superiors.

Four months after the crimes Dean Lyons was charged with murder of one of the Grangegorman women and placed on remand. Two weeks later a man called Mark Nash was found wandering around Roscommon after murdering his girlfriend's sister and her husband. He also attempted to murder his girlfriend, leaving her for dead. When the Gardai apprehended the killer he immediately admitted to the earlier Grangegorman killings and provided compelling information that was not in the public domain.

This event should have rung alarm bells to the senior Gardai managing the case in Dublin.. However, they discounted Nash and his irrefutable evidence and continued with a lame duck case against Dean Lyons, even extending the range of the prosecution to cover the murder of the second woman.. Eventually the case was dropped when sense prevailed, but at that stage Dean had spent nine months in jail.

This scandal involves the Gardai and how their actions brought discredit to the force. They messed up the investigation, failed to see that Dean was totally unreliable and known to be so. When their mistake was discovered they pursued the case against an innocent man and in doing so ensured that the real culprit will most likely never be charged with the crimes. Their actions injured the Lyons family, the families of the victims, the legal system, the Gardai and most of all the vulnerable addict and human being that was Dean Lyons.

Presenter/ Reporter: Pat Butler
Producer/ Director: Irene McCormick

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