Pathologists inspected the thawed remains Wednesday of a missing Dublin criminal whose body was found, frozen rock solid, in the Mermaid Fish Shop.

The owner of the shop in Galway, western Ireland, last week found the body of Patrick McCormack, 52, concealed inside a plastic container. He appeared to have been badly beaten and his hands were tied behind his back.

An examination of the body has been repeatedly delayed at Dublin City Morgue because it had not defrosted. But the work began Wednesday under the supervision of Ireland's assistant state pathologist, Dr. Michael Curtis.

The police officer leading the murder investigation, Superintendent Tom Curley, said detectives were exploring the possibility that McCormack's body had been in the freezer since 2002, when his car was found abandoned in the western county of Clare.

McCormack, a Dublin native, had criminal convictions for robbery and was on a police list of suspected drug dealers at the time of his disappearance.