GARDAÍ investigating the desecration of the crypt at St Michan’s Church believe the crime was the work of just one man.
They had been working on the theory that the attack was planned and not just mindless vandalism. But CCTV footage has shown a lone man forcing his way into the crypt at around 11:30 on night of February 23. Gardaí said he had made no effort to disguise himself.
Assistant Commissioner Pat Leahy said it was “an outrageous act” and there was “no sense nor meaning to what has taken place”.
An 800-year-old mummy, known as The Crusader, was decapitated after the break-in at the vault on Church Street, where conditions kept it preserved. The head was removed and there are concerns it will disintegrate in the open air. Two other mummified remains, including the 400-year-old remains of a nun, were badly damaged as was the crypt itself.
The Church of Ireland and Catholic archbishops of Dublin, Dr Michael Jackson and Dr Diarmuid Martin, visited the scene and condemned the outrage.
Dr Jackson said “the damage is barbaric” and that “the disturbance and desecration of the mummies is not a pretty sight to see.”
Dr Martin said the incident was “an offence to the city” and was “horrible vandalism of a peculiar kind.” Assistant Commissioner Leahy, who also visited the scene, said the damage was considerable.
Gardaí are renewing their appeal to anyone with information about the incident or the whereabouts of the missing head to come forward.
The crypt at St Michan’s was also vandalised in 1996.
Last year, around 27,000 people visited the vault. The church authorities say it will remain closed for the foreseeable future, due to the severity of the damage.