Wednesday 24 May 2017

Arrest brings hope for family of man abducted 25 years ago

Crohan and Penny Pickard at their home outside Castlecove. Photo by Don MacMonagle
Crohan and Penny Pickard at their home outside Castlecove. Photo by Don MacMonagle

Luke Byrne and Tom Brady

The son of Charles Brooke Pickard, who was abducted more than a quarter of a century ago, has said it would be "the beginning of a grieving process" if the family finally found out what happened to him.

Crohan Pickard was speaking following the arrest on Wednesday of a man in his 60s, in the Castlecomer area of Kilkenny, in connection with the disappearance of his dad.

Charles Pickard pictured with his children. Photo: Don MacMonagle
Charles Pickard pictured with his children. Photo: Don MacMonagle

A source said it was a "major breakthrough" in the investigation.

"This is a person of interest and a key player in the investigation," they told the Irish Independent. "He had been living outside the State but had returned home recently and was arrested."

The father-of-four, originally from England but who lived in Castlecove on the Ring of Kerry, was abducted on Friday, April 26, 1991. He was aged 43 at the time.

He had been living in the area for eight years and was last seen at White Strand near Castlecove.

Charles Pickard with Penny Pickard. Photo supplied by Don MacMonagle
Charles Pickard with Penny Pickard. Photo supplied by Don MacMonagle

His son Crohan Pickard said that grieving would be preferable to the "prolonged limbo" they were currently in.

"If we do get closure it would be the beginning of a grieving process.

"There's no happy ending to this," Mr Pickard told the Irish Independent.

"But the short-term process would be preferable to the long-term limbo we have been in."

He said the fact there had been an arrest gave him hope, because it meant gardaí were pursuing the case.

"It lets us know that the case is still active," he said.

"For many years it sat on a shelf somewhere."

However, he said he had not yet been briefed on the latest development in the case.

Mr Pickard's family has, for 25 years, been hoping to learn the truth about what happened to him.

Mr Pickard was abducted and driven away in his van by a number of males and has not been seen since.

The following month, on May 16, his van, a navy Ford Transit, was found burnt out in Shronaloughnane Forest, in the townland of Derrennageeha near Waterville, Co Kerry.

The location was around 44km from where he was abducted.

Gardaí suspect members of the republican movement were responsible.

In September this year, gardaí began excavating a site at Derrennageeha, Waterville, Co Kerry, after receiving new information on the case.

The intelligence came to light following an appeal on RTÉ's 'Crimecall'.

It is understood that a man saw the appeal and remembered having seen freshly-dug earth in the area at the time.

The fresh appeal was the result of a review of the case by the Garda cold case team, and was one of 70 recommendations made.

An area around half the size of a football pitch was searched by teams of gardaí.

It is understood that these searches did not yield new evidence, but Mr Pickard's family was told by gardaí that they still had a number of leads to follow.

The arrested man has been held under the provisions of Section 30 of the Offences against the State Act 1939 at Killarney Garda Station.

He can be held for up to 72 hours.

It is thought a gang targeted Mr Pickard after having been told incorrectly that he acquired a large sum of money.

There was further tragedy for the family three years later when Mr Pickard's daughter Lisa was killed in a car crash.

A year after that, the family's house burnt down in a fire.

Irish Independent

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