Breakthrough in missing Sandra case as suspect arrested
Published 25/03/2011 | 05:00
GARDAI have made a significant breakthrough in their investigation into the disappearance of Sandra Collins more than 10 years ago, following the arrest of the prime suspect in her murder.
Detectives detained a 46-year-old man yesterday morning for questioning about the murder of Ms Collins (29), who was last seen in the town of Killala, Co Mayo, on the night of December 4, 2000.
Officers arrested the suspect at his home outside Killala shortly after 10am and he was taken to Ballina garda station for questioning under section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act.
He can be detained without charge for up to 24 hours.
The move came after a series of developments over the past few months in the renewed investigation of the case and the emergence of new witnesses.
Some of the witnesses made contact after a fresh appeal for help was made last December in tandem with a reconstruction of the events of that night.
On Wednesday, gardai arrested a woman, who was 11 years old when Ms Collins went missing, and she was quizzed about the alleged withholding of information about the disappearance. She was held at Ballina station until yesterday when she was released without charge.
Gardai have been treating the case as a murder investigation although the body has not been found. Ms Collins's family have accepted she is dead.
Earlier this month, Superintendent Peter O'Boyle, who is in charge of the investigation, issued an appeal to the public for help in identifying a white van, which had been spotted in Killala around the time that Ms Collins was last seen.
She called into the local takeaway, The Country Kitchen, at George's Street at 11.15pm, but it is unclear what happened to her after she left.
Gardai think it is likely that she met a man shortly after that and was killed sometime later.
Officers suspect the man she met was already known to her.
Gardai said last night they had compiled a comprehensive report on the case and this would be forwarded to the DPP.
Yesterday's arrest was the third in the investigation as a young man, who was well known to Ms Collins, was detained in 2004 but was released without charge.