Monday 26 September 2016

Fresh intelligence prompts dig for missing man

Wayne O'Connor and Tom Brady

Published 14/09/2016 | 02:30

Crohan and Penny Pickard pictured at their home outside Castlecove in County Kerry Picture: Don MacMonagle
Crohan and Penny Pickard pictured at their home outside Castlecove in County Kerry Picture: Don MacMonagle

Fresh intelligence has prompted a new garda search for the body of an Englishman, who was abducted and believed murdered by a gang 25 years ago.

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Gardaí suspect members of the republican movement were responsible for the disappearance of Charles Brooke Pickard, a father of four, on April 26, 1981.

Mr Brooke Pickard was kidnapped near his home in Castlecove, on the Ring of Kerry, after up to five men were seen forcing him into a van and driving off. The incident was witnessed by a number of local people but was not reported to gardaí for several days.

A major investigation was carried out by the gardaí and regular appeals for information were made by officers and members of the missing man's family.

Penny and Charles Brooke Pickard Photo courtesy of Don MacMonagle
Penny and Charles Brooke Pickard Photo courtesy of Don MacMonagle

Following a review of the case by the garda cold case team, 70 recommendations were made including another appeal on the RTÉ Crime Call programme on the 25th anniversary last May which resulted in several new lines of inquiry.

Senior officers said they were now searching a wooded site about the size of "half a football pitch". The operation is expected to last up to 10 days and involves local gardaí with earthmoving equipment and cadaver dogs as well as members of the Defence Forces. Gardaí are also being assisted by an anthropologist as they search the remote site, near Ballaghisheen Pass, 20km from Waterville. The site is in a mountainous area between Waterville, Caherciveen and Glencar.

Chief Supt Con Cadogan told the Irish Independent that gardaí were continuing to encourage people to come forward and pass on any information that might be helpful to their investigation.

He said some of those people might have felt at the time that they could not contact the gardaí with what they knew but after 25 years their circumstances might have changed and they were now able to help. He asked anyone with information to telephone the confidential line, 1800 666111.

Gardaí and the Defence Forces prepare to examine land in Derrenagheeha, Ballaghisheen
Photo: Sally MacMonagle.
Gardaí and the Defence Forces prepare to examine land in Derrenagheeha, Ballaghisheen Photo: Sally MacMonagle.

Mr Brooke Pickard's navy Ford Transit van was found burnt out 20 days after his disappearance. His son, Crohan recently told Radio Kerry that the family had suffered a series of nightmare events in the wake of his father's disappearance.

"We are still waiting and it is still part of our life and someone out there can give us that closure," he said.

Irish Independent

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