An Irish man missing for 18 years was discovered dead on the bed of Lough Erne after a local fisherman observed an “odd shape” on his sonar equipment, an inquest has heard.
The body of digger driver Michael Anthony Lynch was found in his car on the bottom of the water in County Fermanagh in May 2020, after disappearing in January 2002.
A diving company director had been using specialist equipment on the lake in February 2020 when a shape appeared near Corradillar Quay, in Lisnaskea, the Irish Mirror reports.
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In a statement read to the coroner’s court sitting at Laganside in Belfast on Wednesday (June 22), the man said he had been using “specialist side-imaging sonar” which creates 3D images of anything lying on the bottom.
His statement read: “I was about 25 metres away from Corradillar Quay slipway when I saw an odd shape on the lough bed which I thought might have been a car.
“I intended to come back and have a closer look, but due to work I didn’t get back as quickly as I’d hoped.
“On May 16, 2020, I met a garda when I was out fishing and mentioned the possibility of a car to him as I was aware they were looking for a missing person and a car in Lough Erne.”
He was able to take police to the location, whereupon the car was found and recovered on May 18, with Lynch’s remains inside.
The missing man, better known as Tony, was identified by dental records and formally pronounced dead on May 20.
The inquest heard how the father-of-four had last been seen alive at a hotel bar in Clones on January 6, 2002, after he had moved out of the Magheraveely family home in November 2001, to a flat in Clones, in order to deal with his alcohol problem.
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In giving evidence, a PSNI officer said the vehicle’s position around 20 metres from the edge of the quay indicated it had entered the water at speed.
Coroner Anne-Louise Toal ruled Mr Lynch had drowned after driving into the water, saying: “Medical evidence provided, showed the deceased had a history of low mood and depression associated with excess alcohol.
“I find that Michael Anthony Lynch, against a background of his recent departure from the family home, depression and issues with alcohol, entered the water at speed in his vehicle at Corradillar Quay on 6 January 2002 or the early part of 7 January 2002.
“I find on the balance of probabilities that Mr Lynch died by his own act.”
She said that due to the lengthy time period between his death and the discovery of his body, a medical cause of death had not been ascertained.
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