A new inquest into the 1973 satanic killing of a seven-year-old Dublin boy has thrust the largely forgotten case back into the public's consciousness.
On June 14, 1973, the boy, John Horgan was left in the care of a trusted 16-year-old neighbor while his mother went to town. The teenager and John went into the fields behind the house in Hollyville to look for rabbits. When the young boy hadn't returned home for tea by 4pm, his family became concerned.
Hours later, after a frantic search by John's parents and neighbors, tracker dogs and special garda units from across Dublin were called in to aid in the search.
Shortly before midnight, John's body was found tied to the rafters in the attic of a neighbor's house in the Hollyville area of Palmerston surrounded by religious symbols, including a silver cup and three hosts. He had been killed by a massive blow to the head, which had fractured his skull, according to then State Pathologist, Dr Maurice Hickey.
Speaking outside the County Coroner's Court on Tuesday, where the brief inquest was held, Det Sgt Noonan said the boy was struck on the back of the head with a skittle.
The teenager who had been looking after the boy was taken into custody for questioning at Lucan Garda Station.
According to the Herald, two articles from the Meath Chronicle in August 1973 reveal that the suspect was remanded in custody to appear at a District Court in Meath.
It was reported in The Irish Independent on September 14, 1973 that the teenage suspect attended Dunshaughlin District Court, where he was kept in custody and returned for trial at the Central Criminal Court for the murder of John Horgan. The 16-year-old was subsequently tried in an adult court and received a mandatory life sentence for murder.
He was later released and it was revealed at the inquest that he is now living abroad.
Detective Inspector Richard McDonnell, from Lucan Garda Station, was requested in February of this year to prepare an inquest file for the issuing of the death certificate.
"I contacted the family of John Horgan, who indicated they did not wish to revisit a very traumatic period in their lives and reopen old wounds," he explained.
"However, the memory of their son is always with them."
Further light will be shed on this horrific tragedy in an upcoming book by David Malone entitled "The Boy in the Attic." The book will be released later this year.
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