A murder inquiry is under way after the body of a 47-year-old man was found in a drain near Clara in Co Offaly.

The body was discovered at Kilbride at around 8.45am.

The dead man has been named as Christy Daly, who was from Ballycumber, Co Offaly.

Two cars along with a caravan, in which Mr Daly was believed to have lived, were found burnt-out.

It is believed he was released from prison last month after serving a three-year sentence for false imprisonment.

He had convictions for a number of offences including assault and had been under investigation, but not prosecuted, for alleged sex offences.

Gardaí found the body during a search of the area after Mr Daly had not been seen for a number of days.

Detectives believe his body was in the drain for several days.

Gardaí said the area where Mr Daly's body was found is an isolated area with limited access.

State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy carried out a preliminary examination at the scene before the body was removed to the Midlands Regional Hospital Tullamore this afternoon for a post mortem.

Gardaí said a number of people have already come forward with information.

They have appealed for anyone who may have seen any suspicious activity at Bog Road, Kilbride Lane in Clara in the days leading up to Sunday 29 December - and particularly the days since then - to contact Tullamore Garda Station on 057 9327600, the Garda Confidential Line 1800 666 111 or any Garda Station.