Mother of missing Amy stands by her son's killer
Audrey must deal with the death of her son, a missing daughter, and a husband in prison, writes Maeve Sheehan
Her teenage daughter, Amy, has been missing for eight years. Her son, Dean, was stabbed to death by the man she later married. So much tragedy would strain the strongest of relationships. But yesterday Audrey Fitzpatrick continued to stand by her man.
Shortly before 10am yesterday, Audrey arrived at Cloverhill prison in a car driven by her father-in-law to visit Dave Mahon on his first day behind bars.
Convicted of his stepson's manslaughter on Friday, he will wait several more weeks before he is sentenced. Audrey, who stood by him throughout his trial, emerged two hours later, her face impassive.
Their unity as a couple has been unshakeable ever since they first entered the limelight when Audrey's daughter, Amy, disappeared, and they went public for help in finding her.
Audrey had left her first husband, Christopher, and their home in Artane, to move to Spain to be with Dave Mahon, who was then a well-off estate agent on the Costa del Sol. Audrey and Christopher's children, Amy and Dean, moved with their mother.
They had what Dave Mahon later described as "a great life in Spain, with eight or nine houses and bars".
All that changed in 2008. Amy (15) left a friend's house at 10pm on New Year's Eve to walk home, but somewhere along the route she vanished without a trace.
In the aftermath of her disappearance, Amy's lifestyle in Spain - the late hours she kept, her school attendance - came under scrutiny.
Meanwhile, the divisions between her already estranged parents worsened - it was several days before her father was told about his daughter's disappearance.
Since then, Dave and Audrey claimed to have spent €500,000 looking for Amy, and the media has followed the case relentlessly.
There has been a book and an appearance by the couple on the Late Late Show.
Amy's father, Christopher, and her aunt, Christine, launched their own appeal to fund a private detective called Liam Brady, who embarked on an investigation.
But nothing more was heard of Amy.
Gardai in Dublin interviewed some of Amy's old friends in Clare Hall to find out whether they had any contact from her. None had.
A year after Amy disappeared, Dean returned to Dublin.
After his death three years ago, his aunt Christine told the Sunday Independent that he and Amy had been close as children.
Dean was out with friends at the time his sister disappeared, and after he moved back to Dublin he found it difficult to talk about her.
Then he met Sarah O'Rourke, started a relationship and had a baby with her. He seemed to be more settled.
His father, Christopher, told a Spanish website that in the weeks before Dean died he had "loosened up".
Liam Brady, the private detective, this weekend said he had got a call from Dean's aunt to tell him that Dean had started to open up and that he might talk about his sister Amy.
But Dean died not long afterwards in a confrontation over a bike.
Mahon suspected him of messing with his bike and got Dean to come over to his apartment.
He claimed Dean pulled a knife on him. Mahon then took a knife out of his pocket and was holding it when Dean "walked into it".
Mahon was found guilty of Dean's manslaughter on Friday and is in Cloverhill Prison awaiting sentencing.
Before he is sentenced, the judge may hear victim impact statements from members of Dean's family.
Those victims include his father Christopher, his aunt Christine, and Audrey, who as Dean's mother is a victim of this crime but also remains supportive of the man who committed it.
The search for Amy Fitzpatrick goes on.
The investigation into her disappearance remains live. Her case has been taken over by the Garda missing persons bureau.
In recent years, detectives from Dublin have travelled to Spain to liaise with detectives there. Any developments in the case are shared with both of Amy's parents.
So far, there have been many theories but few leads, and none has followed through into evidence of any crime.
Dave Mahon said he was informed by criminal sources that a convicted gangster and killer had boasted that he had killed Amy.
Mahon believed that the information meant that they were finally close to solving the mystery of Amy's disappearance.
It prompted extensive police inquiries in Ireland and in Spain.
Ultimately however, the lead came to nothing - the gangster was not on the Costa Del Sol at the time Amy disappeared.
Liam Brady said he hoped that the publicity would shake out new information about Amy's disappearance.
"When you take a case like that, you can never give up on it," he said.