The body of a man who went missing from Clones in 2002, was discovered after a fisherman noticed a “strange anomaly” on the floor of Lough Erne while carrying out some works with sonar equipment.
Michael Anthony Lynch, known as Tony Lynch, was found dead, in a seated position within his vehicle on 18th May 2020, after his vehicle was removed from Lough Erne in Co Fermanagh.
Tony Lynch had been missing since January 2002 and his last known sighting alive was on the evening of 6th January 2002, at a bar in Clones.
It is not believed that he was seen alive again and he was reported as a missing person to Clones Gardaí by his brother on 9th January 2002.
The inquest heard that Mr Lynch moved out of the family home into a temporary flat in Clones around the last week of November in 2001 to try and deal with alcohol issues.
Mrs Angela Lynch, the deceased’s wife, gave evidence to the inquest into Tony’s death.
She described him as a good father, a good husband and a good man.
Garda Sergeant Niall Leech, who was the Senior Investigating Officer into Mr Lynch’s missing person enquiry, also gave evidence to the inquest.
At the time of his disappearance, Gardaí and the PSNI mounted a number of water based searches for his vehicle in the surrounding area, searching 11 areas of water with sonar and drone equipment.
He explained these water based searches were undertaken once it was clear that the deceased’s car had not been seen since his disappearance.
On 16th May 2020, Garda Sergeant Leech was made aware that two local fishermen had observed, via sonar, a strange anomaly on the floor of Lough Erne when carrying out some works.
On 18th May 2020, he was brought to a location known as Corradillar Quay and observed images of the lake floor which appeared to show the presence of a vehicle.
It was confirmed the registration matched with the vehicle registered to the deceased, which had not been sighted since Tony’s disappearance in 2002.
A recovery operation was launched by the PSNI and the vehicle recovered contained skeletal remains, which were subsequently confirmed to be those of the deceased.
The vehicle was around 20 metres out from the old slipway at Corradillar Quay.
A PSNI officer who gave evidence to the inquest said it was his opinion that the only way for the vehicle to get to this position was for it to have been driven at speed into the water.
He added that “it was clear this would not have been a case of a car rolling into the water”.
Coroner Anne-Louise Toal ruled that Mr Lynch had drowned after driving into the water.
She noted his “recent departure from the family home, depression and issues with alcohol” and said that “on the balance of probabilities, Mr Lynch died by his own act”.