An assault charge against a man who was originally reported missing then confirmed murdered, has been withdrawn after going through the formal court process in such instances.
Damien Heagney (47) whose last known address was Burnvale Crescent, Cookstown was reported as a missing person in July.
It then emerged he was last seen in Dromore, County Tyrone on New Year’s Eve 2021 and when this was made public, police quickly upgraded the investigation to a murder inquiry.
Three properties in County Tyrone were searched from which detectives seized several evidential items for examination.
The public were asked to look out for Heagney’s BMW car and police described a white Citroen Berlingo van, registration number LM58 UVW, which had been spotted in County Tyrone and County Fermanagh as a vehicle of interest
Heagney’s three-year-old dog Tyson, a black Rottweiler cross-breed last seen wearing a red collar, was also missing.
On August 6 police announced a 50-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of Heagney’s murder but was later released on bail pending further enquiries.
The investigation was further ramped up on August 10 when detectives announced they had located Heagney’s BMW and specialist teams had commenced searches of Altmore Reservoir in Cappagh.
Later that day, it was announced human remains had been recovered from the water and taken for post-mortem.
Searching of the reservoir continued for a short time before detectives confirmed this aspect of the investigation had concluded.
The following day police confirmed the remains were those of Heagney, however it is unknown how long they had been in the water.
To date the cause of death has not been released.
Since then, there have been no updates or further developments on the investigation.
It transpired Heagney had been involved in an alleged incident on February 11, 2021, resulting in a charge of assaulting a male, although it is unclear if he was ever aware of the court proceedings.
The case first reached the court last year and appears to have been adjourned on a number of occasions after neither Heagney nor any legal representatives attended.
In June however it was felt enough opportunity had been afforded and after a police officer confirmed the charge could be connected, a warrant was issued for Heagney’s arrest.
The case was listed by request before the most recent sitting of Dungannon Magistrates’ Court where a prosecution lawyer applied to have the charge formally withdrawn, “as the defendant is deceased”, which was agreed by Deputy District Judge Sean O’Hare.
Meanwhile a PSNI spokesperson confirmed” “Detectives are continuing to follow a number of lines of enquiry into the murder of Damien Heagney. The post-mortem has taken place and our enquiries remain ongoing. Detectives continue to appeal to anyone with any information to contact 101 quoting reference number CW 1058-19/07/22. A report can be made using the online reporting form via www.psni.police.uk/makeareport. Information can also be provided to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org”