Monday 19 March 2018

Man charged with murder of woman who vanished in 2000

28/12/2012 Martin Ealy arriving at a special sitting of Ballina District Court where he was charged with the murder of Sandra Collinsin Killala in 2000. Photo : Keith Heneghan / Phocus

Tom Shiel

A 48-YEAR-OLD man is to go on trial before the Central Criminal Court charged with the murder of a young woman whose body has never been found.

Martin Earley appeared before Judge Patrick Durcan at a special sitting of Ballina District Court in Mayo today.

He was charged with murdering Sandra Collins (29), from Killala, Ballina, in or about December 4, 2000 at a place unknown.

Mr Earley sat in the courtroom just a short distance from the family of his alleged victims.

After evidence of arrest, charge and caution was given by Detective Garda Eddie Naughton, Supt Pat McHugh said the DPP had directed that the accused stand trial at the Central Criminal Court.

Supt McHugh asked that Earley, of Bannagher, Carrowmore Lacken, Ballina, Co. Mayo, be remanded in custody to Harristown Court on Friday next for the preparation of a Book of Evidence.

Earlier, Detective Garda Naughton said that when he arrested Mr Earley at 4.55pm yesterday at Carrowmore Lacken, on a charge of murdering Ms Collins, the accused replied ‘No comment’.

During the hearing, members of Sandra Collins’s family including her brother, Patrick and sisters, Mary and Bridie, sat in the body of the courtroom.

Ms Collins was last seen in Killala at 11pm on December 4, 2000 when she went to buy two portions of chips. Four days later, her fleece jacket was found on the pier at Killala.

Despite intensive and protracted searches of the coastline and farm buildings no trace of her was ever found.

Following the hearing, Patrick Collins said: “This has been a very difficult day for our family.

“Our dearest wish now is to get Sandra’s remains back so we can give her a decent burial”.

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