Wednesday 21 February 2018

Blathnaid taxi-driver is found

Missing woman dropped off at seaside village, says cabbie

Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

THE search for missing Galway woman Blathnaid Timothy intensified yesterday after a taxi driver came forward to say he dropped her in Howth, the north Dublin seaside village.

The taxi driver has told gardai that he picked up Blathnaid on Sir John Rogerson's Quay in Dublin at around 8pm on December 14.

He drove her to Howth and dropped her on Harbour Road near the Waterside Pub. Although the taxi driver's recollection was vague, he did remember that Blathnaid sat in the back of his car and said little during the journey, according to sources.

The garda diving unit had already begun searching Howth Harbour for the missing woman last week, on suspicion that she may have gone there. The search was stepped up yesterday after the taxi driver's evidence confirmed their suspicions.

Garda divers searched the East Pier in Howth yesterday. A garda helicopter was also due to assist in the search, weather conditions permitting. A voluntary rescue group searched the cliffs around Howth Head earlier last week.

Blathnaid's family and gardai have made numerous high-profile appeals for the taxi driver to come forward so they could find out where she had gone.

The last sighting of Blathnaid, 33, was captured on CCTV footage at 8pm on December 14. She used her ATM card to withdraw €60 at the National Irish Bank on Sir John Rogerson's Quay.

In the footage she can be seen crossing the street and getting into a dark-coloured taxi, which gardai suspected was most likely a Mercedes, and possibly dated between 1992 and 1997.

Blathnaid left her mobile phone and her bag behind in the flat she shared on Camden Street. Gardai said there were no further withdrawals from her bank account. The taxi driver was regarded as crucial to the search for her.

It is understood he was tracked down by a garda team who were working their way through an estimated 4,000 Mercedes taxis operating in Ireland to find the one she was seen getting into at the time she disappeared.

The driver was contacted some days ago but gardai only took a statement from him on Friday.

He initially said he could not recall taking Blathnaid in his taxi and had to check through global satellite system records to confirm where his taxi had been on the relevant date.

He received those records earlier this week, which confirmed that he was on Sir John Rogerson's Quay on the day in question.

Blathnaid had worked as a successful executive for KPMG and for Coca-Cola. She is described as 5ft 6in, thin, with medium-length dark brown hair and blue eyes.

She was wearing a three-quarter-length black wool coat, grey jeans and a black and red scarf when last seen.

Superintendent Joe Gannon, who is heading the search for Blathnaid, said he wanted to commend the taxi industry for assisting in the search for the driver and to the members of the public for their enormous assistance. Anybody with information is asked to contact Harcourt Terrace Garda station on 01-6669500.

Sunday Independent

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