Coroner records open verdict on man whose skull was found by fishing vessel

Andrew Finni went missing in May 2022, walking through a field towards the sea exhibiting signs of paranoia, coroner heard

A coroner has recorded an open verdict on the death of a 22-year-old north County Dublin man whose skull was recovered from the sea by a fishing vessel in July last year.

Coroner Dr Cróna Gallagher said while the manner Andrew Mr Finni’s death was “unascertained”, she was satisfied from DNA evidence that the remains were those of the young man.

Mr Finni was last seen on May 6th, 2022 in the vicinity of Bremore beach, north County Dublin at about 7.30am. His disappearance provoked a large-scale sea and land search before fishing vessel captain Mark Francis found the deceased’s skull in his nets about 45 kilometres northeast of Howth, more than one year later.

In evidence given to the Dublin District Coroner’s Count on Monday, Mr Finni’s girlfriend Amelia Gros said she and Mr Finni had stayed the night of May 5th at the City North Hotel, close to the M1 motorway.


She said early in the morning of May 6th Mr Finni had what appeared to be a schizophrenic experience and began to show signs of paranoia.

After they left the hotel the car they were travelling in was involved in an crash and Mr Finni climbed into a field.

She said Mr Finni was carrying her mobile phone and she was later able to trace this through a “find my phone” app on her computer. Alongside the phone she found Mr Finni’s wallet with some €600 in cash and keys. She told the Garda she was concerned as she did not think Mr Finni was “in a good mental state”.

Paul Reidy told the Coroner’s Court he was taking his dog for a morning walk along the beach he saw a man emerge from a field on to a grassy knoll on the coast, which was an unusual way to access the beach.

He said the man was dressed in black tracksuit top and bottoms. The man removed his tracksuit bottoms and went towards the sea.

Mr Reidy said he had said hello, but did not get a response.

Mr Reidy told the court the man might have been going for a swim but had “left his track suit top on which concerned me”.

In the following days Mr Reidy heard of the appeal for the missing Mr Finni, and saw photographs of the missing man. Mr Reidy said from the photos online, he was “90 per cent sure” the man he saw was Mr Finni.

Det Sgt Eoin McDonnell said a number of days later a quantity of cocaine had been found in the field where Mr Finni had been. He said gardaí believed it belonged to Mr Finni.

Det Sgt Eoin McDonnell said Mr Finni’s social media and phone records had been inactive since that morning. He said when the skull had been brought ashore at Howth more than a year later, its DNA matched Mr Finni’s DNA, a sample of which had been taken by gardaí in Drogheda in 2018.

The Coroner said while there was much that remained unknown about the method of Mr Finni’s death, there was no evidence of third party involvement. “There is no reason to suspect anything underhand happened”, she said.

Dr Gallagher said she was satisfied from the DNA that the remains were those of Mr Finni and she expressed sympathy to his family. She said while the remains had been found in July 2023, Mr Finni’s death would be recorded as having occurred on May 6th, 2002 at Bremore Bay, the last area where he had been seen alive.

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Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist