Theft | 

Victorian paintings and even dishwashers looted from the Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum after facility’s patients moved out

Priceless art work, marble statues and even dishwashers stolen

Patrick O'ConnellSunday World

VICTORIAN-ERA paintings, marble statues, flat-screen TVs and even dishwashers were looted from the Central Mental Hospital (CMH) in Dundrum after the facility’s 94 patients were moved out earlier this month.

Sources have told the Sunday World that such is the scale of the theft that occurred, Gardaí are still – three weeks later – assessing the volume and value of tax-payer-owned property that is unaccounted for.

The looting took place after the facility’s 400 staff and 94 patients moved to a new €200m centre in Portrane, north county Dublin.

Gardaí suspect vans were driven into the Dundrum premises to facilitate the removal of larger items such as dishwashers, fridges and dryers.

A security source said: “One possible line of inquiry is that a staff member or small number of staff facilitated access to the site.”

A separate source told the Sunday World: “This was looting of a State-owned facility at an unprecedented scale. Nothing was off limits.

“It wasn’t just televisions, electrical equipment or the contents of the store-rooms.

“Victorian paintings were taken, marble statues, and even the brass knobs off doors. Some of the paintings taken were original works of art so God only knows what they were worth.”

Neither the HSE nor Gardaí would comment on the scale or value of the property looted from the facility this week.

In a brief statement in response to a query from this newspaper containing a detailed breakdown of some of the property allegedly stolen, the HSE said: “The HSE cannot comment on a matter currently under Garda investigation.”

Meanwhile, a Garda spokesperson told this newspaper: “Gardaí in Dundrum are investigating a number of alleged thefts at a medical facility.

“No further information is available at this time.”

It’s understood officers investigating the thefts are still attempting to compile a comprehensive list of the items taken illegally from the premises.

However, a source confirmed to this newspaper: “It’s fair to say there is a significant volume of property unaccounted for.”

The Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum was home to some of Ireland’s most-notorious inmates – including schizophrenic Saverio Bellante, who believed killing and eating his landlord Tom O’Gorman’s heart ‘would put an end to evil in the world’, and Sanjeev Chada who murdered his sons Eoghan and Ruairi.

About two-thirds of the hospital’s patients were admitted through the criminal justice system and it is understood around half are considered to be a high-security risk.

But all 94 patients at the facility were relocated to a new €200m campus in Portrane, in north Dublin, three weeks ago.

The move came after the Mental Health Commission required the closure of the Dundrum site.

Many of the CMH buildings in Dundrum dated back to 1852 and it was frequently criticised as being not fit for purpose.

The new hospital was completed in 2020, however, further construction work and industrial relations issues delayed the opening.

The new Central Mental Hospital in Portrane is said have enhanced security measures, with a greater reliance on technology and CCTV surveillance than the former Victorian facility.

The Dundrum hospital’s original entrance had to be opened manually, while the new CMH sits behind imposing electronic gates.

Sources said a lack of CCTV at the old facility and the lack of an itemised list of artwork and equipment at the site will complicate efforts to assess the scale of what has been stolen.

It’s expected as part of the ongoing investigation, staff members will be spoken to by Gardaí in order to compile a full list of the artwork that was present at the site and to establish when each item was last seen on site.

Gardaí are also expected to contact art dealers to see whether valuations may have been sought for the items prior to their theft.

A source said: “This is a complicated investigation and currently an assessment of what has been stolen is ongoing.”

Anyone with information on the thefts can contact Dundrum Garda station on 01 6665600, the Garda Confidential Line 1800 666 111 or any Garda Station.

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