Corstorphine Hill: Victim named and man arrested

A police handout of the victim, 66-year-old Phyllis Dunleavy from Dublin. Picture: Submitted
A police handout of the victim, 66-year-old Phyllis Dunleavy from Dublin. Picture: Submitted
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THE son of a woman whose dismembered body was discovered in a shallow grave on Corstorphine Hill in Edinburgh has been charged in connection with her death.

James Dunleavy, 39, made a brief appearance in private before Sheriff Richard Clark charged with murder yesterday. He made no plea or declaration and was remanded in custody.

Dunleavy is due to appear in court at a later date and the case was yesterday continued for further inquiries.

Remains found at Corstorphine Hill Nature Reserve last month were identified yesterday as those of Phyllis Dunleavy, 66, from Dublin.

Her body was discovered by a cyclist on 6 June, sparking a murder investigation.

Officers previously said her body had been dismembered before being transported to the reserve where it was dumped.

Experts from Dundee University constructed a virtual image of the victim, which was released last week and circulated to police forces across Europe.

A member of Mrs Dunleavy’s family in Ireland recognised the picture on Friday and it is understood that Dunleavy, from Balgreen, west Edinburgh, was arrested on Sunday night.

Police had also circulated photographs of distinctive rings found on the remains, including a claddagh ring, said to be popular among Irish Catholics.

Detectives released details of extensive dental surgery – amounting to £10,000-£15,000 of work carried out over up to 15 visits – in dentists’ trade magazines in an attempt to solve the mystery.

Police Scotland said the investigation team received more than 30 calls from the general public from as far away as Israel after releasing the reconstruction image. The force had a dedicated team of 50 working on the case at one stage.

The image was created by cranial identification experts at Dundee, led by forensic anthropologist Professor Sue Black. They used CT scans to build an image of the victim using similar techniques to those used to help produce a 3D image of King Richard III after his skull was found recently buried under a Leicestershire car park.

Last night, neighbours of Dunleavy spoke of their surprise at the charges against him.

Dunleavy, who is said to have converted to Islam last year, lives in a flat above a post office in the city’s Balgreen Road.

Tariq Razaq, 39, who works in the Post Office, said he met Mrs Dunleavy when she was in Edinburgh in late April. She was married with two other children, a son and a daughter, he added.

He said he had known Dunleavy – whom he knew as Seamus – for some time.

“The last time I saw him was in May at some time”, he said. “He’s a good guy with a kind heart. I’ve known him for a while as a customer, but I became friends with Seamus in about November when he converted to Islam.”

Craig Thomson, 28, who lives in the same stair as Dunleavy, said: “Seamus is one if my neighbours – he’s a really friendly guy with a heart of gold that would help out all the neighbours.

“He would come out to the back when we are having barbecues in the garden.

“He recently converted to Islam. I’m just really shocked, I can’t believe it.”

Pawel Gorlet, who also lives in the same block, said: “He [Seamus Dunleavy] is very friendly. We have played chess many, many times.”

Police Scotland said: “A 39-year-old man has been arrested and charged in connection with the murder of a woman whose body was found on Corstorphine Hill.”