Thursday 30 October 2014

Missing men: Ground searches continue after Mullingar lake hunt proves fruitless

Caroline Crawford Ken Foy, Cormac McQuinn, Cormac Murphy and Conor Feehan

Published 25/04/2014 | 11:44

Gardai search an area near a car park over looking Lough Owel, outside Mullingar, Co Westmeath, where a car was found in connection with two missing men from Dublin. Photograph: James Flynn/APX
Gardai search an area near a car park over looking Lough Owel, outside Mullingar, Co Westmeath, where a car was found in connection with two missing men from Dublin. Photograph: James Flynn/APX
Gardai search an area near a car park over looking Lough Owel, outside Mullingar, Co Westmeath, where a car was found in connection with two missing men from Dublin. Photograph: James Flynn/APX
Gardai search an area near a car park over looking Lough Owel, outside Mullingar, Co Westmeath, where a car was found in connection with two missing men from Dublin. Photograph: James Flynn/APX
Gardai seal off a car park over looking Lough Owel, outside Mullingar, Co Westmeath, where a car was found in connection with two missing men from Dublin. Photograph: James Flynn/APX
Gardai seal off a car park over looking Lough Owel, outside Mullingar, Co Westmeath, where a car was found in connection with two missing men from Dublin. Photograph: James Flynn/APX

GARDA divers searching for two missing men have completed a search of a Mullingar lake.

Divers had spent two hours searching Lough Owel outside Mullingar as part of the investigation into the disappearance of the two men.

At 4pm the garda diving unit left the scene after searches proved fruitless. Ground searches in the area are continuing.

Eoin O'Connor and Anthony Keegan, from Coolock in North Dublin, were last seen in Co Cavan on Tuesday.

The Garda diving unit arrived at the car park at Lough Owel shortly after lunch to commence a search of the lake.

Acquaintances of the two men, up to 30 of whom had congregated at the site earlier in the morning, returned this afternoon where they kept watch from an embankment.

The search for two Dublin men moved to Mullingar today after the car they were last seen in was found.

Dad-of-two Eoin O'Connor (32) and his friend Anthony Keegan (33) are feared murdered after they disappeared on Tuesday night.

The Silver Ford Focus they were travelling in was discovered at 4am in a car park at Lough Owel, just off the N4 near Mullingar in Westmeath. It has not been burnt out and was today being examined by garda forensic experts.

Senior sources say that gardai are extremely concerned that the two men – both originally from the Kilbarron estate in Coolock – were murdered and their bodies dumped in a field.

A Finglas gangster who owes a €15,000 debt is being investigated over the suspected murders.

Nothing has been heard from the two friends who are believed to have travelled to Cavan on Tuesday to meet the Dublin drug dealer who is being investigated over the suspected murders.

An anonymous phone call was made to Ballyjamesduff Garda Station on Wednesday which stated that the men had been shot dead and dumped in a local field.

The car that was found today was completely intact and may yet yield crucial clues. Examinations are continuing.

Mr Keegan lives in the north inner city and was reported missing at Mountjoy Garda Station, while Mr O'Connor was reported missing at Santry  by family members.

This, combined with the anonymous phone call, led gardai to carry out a huge searches in the Virginia, Ballyjamesduff and Bailieborough areas of Co Cavan, which resumed again this morning and were extended into Co Westmeath after the discovery of the car.

The men's phones have been turned off and sources say that the last time the phones were active was on Tuesday night in the Cavan area.

Mr O’Connor was last seen on  Tuesday evening at Kilbarron Avenue, Coolock, wearing a grey tracksuit bottoms and a blue windbreaker-type jacket with a hood.

Anthony Keegan is described as being 5ft 10in tall, medium build with short brown hair and brown eyes. 

Keegan was jailed for three years in 2007 for an armed robbery at a building society in Greystones in April 2002.

It is understood Mr O'Connor is also known to gardai.

Last night, a senior source told the Herald: “Gardai have grave concerns for the welfare of these men.

“There are a number of dangerous criminals who are originally from Dublin who have relocated to Cavan and these groupings are being investigated in relation to this, as are a Traveller gang who are based in the locality.”

Friends and relatives of the two men drove to Co Cavan on Wednesday night to look for the men, and when they were unable to find them they reported them missing to gardai.

It is understood the group had visited a number of Dublin people living in the area to        try and solve the mystery.

Eoin O'Connor's brother Ruairi told the Herald that his missing brother “does a bit of couriering. He drives a van.”

Eoin is a father of two young girls aged 10 and three years old and has a girlfriend.  “He is a complete family  man. It is out of character for him to be away so long,” Ruairi added.

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