AN Irish woman whose dismembered body was found on Corstorphine Hill had left her husband in the months before visiting her tram worker son in Edinburgh.
Phyllis Dunleavy, 66, travelled to the Capital at the end of April, and is believed to have been last seen alive around a week later.
Her son, James Dunleavy – known as “Seamus” – appeared in Edinburgh Sheriff Court yesterday charged with murder following the discovery of her body in a shallow grave on June 6.
Dunleavy’s friend, Tariq Razaq, 39, said that the pensioner came over from Dublin to visit her son at his Balgreen Road flat, just a few minutes’ walk from the burial site.
Mr Razaq said that mother-of-three Mrs Dunleavy was a “very outgoing person”.
He added that 39-year-old Dunleavy, a labourer on the tram project, converted to Islam last autumn and attended a local mosque.
Mr Razaq, manager of a newsagent located below Dunleavy’s flat, said: “I met Seamus in October and we became good friends. I’d go to his flat for general chats.
“He had come over to Edinburgh ten years ago. He has a brother in the US, a sister, and parents in south Dublin. He’d been over to see them at Christmas.
“His mother came over on the ferry to visit Seamus in January for two weeks. I got to know her as I went to the flat every second or third night. I’d call her Auntie Dunleavy.
“We’d talk about life, current affairs, religion. She was a Catholic but not particularly devout. She’d been a housewife, raising her children.
“She seemed happy and full of life, but she told me that she’d had an unhappy marriage for 40 years.
“We swapped phone numbers and we’d phone each other while she was in Dublin. She loved to talk and was a very outgoing person. She had a thick Irish accent like her son.”
He added: “On her second visit I actually let her into his flat because I had a key. She travelled with just her purse, handbag and a sports holdall.
“She told me that she had left her husband in February to move in with another man. She’d also been spending a lot of time with women from her extended family.
“She did not seem quite as happy this time. She went to Princes Street shopping and walking in Princes Street Gardens. While she was here she would never miss her soaps on TV.”
Mr Razaq said that he last saw Mrs Dunleavy alive on April 30 or May 1. He believed she had returned to Dublin in the days before May 7.
He said: “Mrs Dunleavy was about five foot tall but she could stand her ground in an argument. She was totally able-bodied and in good health.”
Detectives trying to identify her remains released photos of the distinctive rings she was wearing and, later, a facial reconstruction image which was recognised by a family member in Ireland who called police.
Mr Razaq added: “Mrs Dunleavy wore lots of rings. I never saw the appeal about the rings or I might have contacted police. The reconstruction also looked too young so I never made a connection.”
Craig Thomson, 28, a drainage engineer, lives above Dunleavy in Balgreen Road. He said: “I used to do the garden and he’d come out and have a chat. I knew he’d previously lived in Australia.
“I came back from work at around 3pm on Thursday and the police were here. Seamus came back at 4.30pm and they spoke to him in his flat.”
Dunleavy appeared in private before Sheriff Richard Clark and made no plea or declaration. The case was continued for further inquiry and he was remanded in custody.