Saturday 22 October 2016

'I saw Mary being driven away in a red car'- fisherman believes he saw Mary Boyle (6) being 'lifted'

Catherine Devine

Published 14/07/2016 | 12:13

The fisherman who alerted the gardai that Mary Boyle was missing said he believes the six-year-old was snatched by a red car.

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Mary vanished from her grandparents home in Cashelard, Co Donegal in March 1977. Cold case detectives are reviewing her disappearance case.

Fisherman PJ Coughlan has said he saw a red Volkswagen Beetle speeding away from the area that Mary went missing ten minutes before he saw Mary’s uncle Gerry frantically searching for her.

“I believe I saw her being driven away in a car. There’s no doubt in my mind she was lifted,” told the Irish Daily Star.

Mary had been at her grandparents' house in Cashelard, a remote and boggy townland outside Ballyshannon, where the extended family had lunch. Her uncle, Gerry Gallagher, was the last person to see her alive after she walked back to her grandparent’s house but never made it there.

Gardai, her family and scores of neighbours scoured the 450-yard stretch of land between the only two houses in the area. The search escalated over the following weeks and was extended into a trawl of bog holes, lakes, streams and the countryside beyond. Not a trace of Mary was ever found.

Coughlan (73) told the Irish Daily Star: “He came to the top of the mountain shouting “Mary, Mary. Where are you?” He was looking for his niece… he was upset surely.”

Coughlan was the first person at the Garda station in Ballyshannon in 1977 to report Mary’s disappearance. He said he told gardai about the car but he claimed that this wasn’t recorded because the gardai already had a suspect.

Meanwhile, Detective Superintendent Walter O’Sullivan has confirmed that the cold case investigation into Mary's disappearance will be launched in the next few weeks and will last up to six months. 

Mary’s sister Ann recently filed a complaint to Garda watchdog GSOC over gardai leaking information about the new investigation to the Irish Daily Star before she was notified.

Ann Doherty’s solicitor Darragh Mackin released a statement that said she has not been contacted by An Garda Siochana about the cold case review.

“It is deeply troubling, that a decision was taken to provide such a development in an exclusive to a national newspaper, before conveying same to our client. Our Client, Ms Doherty has still not been contacted by An Garda Siochana to confirm the contents of the article and therefore we are not in a position to confirm the accuracy of whether or not there is in fact a fresh probe into the disappearance of Mary Boyle, on foot of the recently published documentary,” said Mackin.

Mary’s twin sister Ann said she believes Mary was being sexually abused and was killed to cover "the secret".

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