independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Tragic Aoife wasn't pregnant, but we'll never know what she was going through

TRAGIC Aoife Phelan wasn't pregnant, despite a previous belief that the 30-year-old nanny was due to give birth in the new year, the Irish Independent has learned.

The 30-year-old victim had told family and friends some time before her disappearance over two weeks ago that she was four months' pregnant.

And after her body was found on Wednesday floral tributes were paid to Aoife and her unborn baby.

But a post mortem examination of her body, carried out by State Pathologist, Dr Marie Cassidy at the Midlands regional hospital in Tullamore, found that she was not pregnant.

Whatever the reason for saying she was due, Aoife is not here to explain what was going on in her life.

As I learn the news that the 30-year-old nanny wasn't expecting, I try to take in the scene, where Aoife's battered body was found by gardai on Wednesday.

I'm on a muddy dirt track, in the isolated townland of Coppoley, outside Portlaoise, Co Laois where silence hangs heavily in the air, broken only by the hoarse cry of rooks.

The last shrivelled blackberries still cling to their branches and the hedgerows are tall with overgrown foliage in startling shades of gold. This lonely spot is less than four kilometres from the home in Cashel, Ballyroan, where she grew up -- and where her unsuspecting family sat on the evening Aoife vanished, on October 25.

A post-mortem revealed that Aoife suffered injuries to her head and neck.

Yesterday, the heartbroken Phelan family took the body of their daughter home for the last time, with friends and neighbours flocking in their cars to attend the wake.

In a statement, the family appealed for privacy following their daughter's death, which had left them "sad and heartbroken".

They said that they were happy to have Aoife back with them.

Loving

"She was a loving daughter and sister and we will miss her dearly."

They also acknowledged the efforts of An Garda Siochana who "worked tirelessly to have Aoife returned to us".

"We ask now for privacy as we spend our remaining precious time with Aoife today and attend to her funeral," they said.

The hearse carrying Aoife left the morgue at Tullamore General Hospital and was taken for embalming before arriving at Cashel in the afternoon, with a cortege of 12 cars following in its wake.

The coffin bore a single long-stemmed white rose -- a symbol of innocence.

Irish Independent

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