Suspicious death

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Gary Kean
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Police say details on how man died in Main Street apartment will be released Thursday

CORNER BROOK  The bar where David (Dick) O’Flaherty worked was closed Wednesday afternoon, but over at another bar he frequented, all the talk was about Mr. O’Flaherty, who was found dead in his Main Street residence Monday evening.

Diane Dwyer, the bartender working at Castaway Lounge on Wednesday, heard most of that conversation about O’Flaherty, who was known to voluntarily shovel snow from the club’s front steps or even clean the bathrooms.

“The talk around the bar is what a shame it is,” said Dwyer. “He was quiet and friendly and I was always comfortable having him around when I was closing up the bar.”

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary has not said how Mr. O’Flaherty died. The police were called to his bed-sitting room at the rear of 45 Main St. early Monday evening, and the 51-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene.

His body was not removed from the scene until shortly after 2 p.m. Wednesday and was expected to be transported to St. John’s for an autopsy later in the day. Police expect they will be able to release the cause of death some time today.

The RNC said Wednesday afternoon that it has no suspects and no arrest has been made in connection with the suspicious death. But the word people on Main Street are hearing is that Mr. O’Flaherty was beaten to death by another man.

Ches Bennett knew Mr. O’Flaherty for the past 35 years. They played pool together in a pool league and sometimes teamed up to play in tournaments around town.

“He was a really good pool player,” said Bennett of his friend. “There weren’t too many people going to take the table away from Dick when he started playing.”

Norm Peddle, 70, said he knew Mr. O’Flaherty ever since the deceased was a little kid. He acknowledged Mr. O’Flaherty was no angel, but said if it is true that Mr. O’Flaherty was beaten up, no one deserves to die like that.

“He was happy-go-lucky and a gentle guy,” said Peddle. “He was always having fun whenever I saw him.”

Mr. O’Flaherty was no stranger to the courts. He was given 15 months in prison for assault in 2008.

Bennett said his friend was trying to turn his life around lately.

“He was doing good staying out of trouble,” he said.

Mr. O’Flaherty’s family was shocked to learn of his death.

His niece, Tammy Earle, said an employee at Area 45 — the bar in the building where Mr. O’Flaherty lived — found him in his room when he didn’t report to work at the club on Monday.

Earle listens to a police scanner regularly and, when she heard something serious was happening at that location Monday evening, she immediately went to make sure it wasn’t her uncle. Sadly, she discovered that wasn’t the case.

“His mom and dad are both up in their 80s and it was very hard to have to break this to them,” she said.

As the RNC goes about its investigation, Earle said the family is frustrated by the limited amount of information they have been given by the police. They too heard Mr. O’Flaherty was beaten up.

“He liked to party, but he was a good soul.”

“His mom and dad are both up in their 80s and it was very hard to have to break this to them.” Tammy Earle, niece of David (Dick) O'Flaherty

Mr. O’Flaherty spent most of his life in the Curling area of Corner Brook where he grew up. He had only lived on Main Street for a couple of months before his death. According to Earle, he worked at Area 45 as a bar back for the same period of time he’d lived in the building.

The RNC said any sudden death outside a medical facility is treated as suspicious until proven otherwise. As to why it took two days to remove Mr. O’Flaherty’s body from the scene, police said it was a matter of both resources and the extensive nature of the investigation this particular incident required.

Const. Scott Mosher, the RNC’s media relations officer, said additional investigators from St. John’s were called in to assist.

“Given the time frame and resources we were waiting on, I wouldn’t say it is normal (to take two days to remove a body), but certainly, in this circumstance, it was inevitable,” said Mosher. “There was some evidence and investigation that had to take place within the residence and we were unable to remove the deceased prior to that.”

Mosher said part of the investigation has involved asking businesses in the area if they have any video surveillance footage that might assist the investigation.

The RNC is asking anyone with any information about Mr. O’Flaherty to contact the police or provide an anonymous tip through CrimeStoppers.

Twitter: WS_GaryKean

Geographic location: CORNER BROOK, Curling

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