Prime suspect quizzed again on disappearance
Published 21/12/2011 | 05:00
THE prime suspect for the murder of a woman who disappeared 11 years ago was being questioned by gardai late last night.
The man was detained by officers outside Ballina in Co Mayo shortly after 8am yesterday and taken to the local garda station.
It was the second time he has been arrested for questioning in connection with the case.
Sandra Collins was last seen in the town of Killala on the night of December 4, 2000. She had called in to the local takeaway, the Country Kitchen, on George's Street, around 11.15pm, but it is unclear what happened to her after she left.
Gardai think it is likely that she met a man shortly afterwards and was killed some time later.
Officers suspect the man she met was already known to her and they compiled a comprehensive report on the case after interviewing the 46-year-old suspect in March.
Since then, there has been a new development in the investigation and issues arising from that were put to the suspect when he was rearrested yesterday morning.
He was detained under Section Four of the Criminal Justice Act, which allowed gardai to hold him without charge for up to 24 hours.
It is expected that he will be released from custody today and officers will then decide whether their file on the case should be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions, who will determine if criminal charges should be brought.
Shortly before the suspect's initial arrest, gardai detained a woman, who was only 11 years old when Ms Collins went missing, and she was questioned about the alleged withholding of information.
Gardai have been treating the case as a murder investigation although a body has not been found, and Ms Collins's family have accepted that she is dead.
Officers have issued an appeal for help in identifying a white van, which was spotted in Killala around the time Ms Collins was last seen.
They believe there are a number of people who have not yet come forward but who may have some knowledge of what took place on the night of her disappearance.
Gardai have appealed to these people to contact the investigation team at Ballina on 096 20560 or the confidential line on 1800 666 111.
Yesterday's arrest was the fourth in the investigation. A young man well known to Ms Collins was detained in 2004 but was released without charge.