Sunday 25 February 2018

Euro 2012: ‘Body in river is Irish fan James Nolan’

James's parents, Essie and Jimmy Nolan, with a picture of their son
Police divers bring in a body found floating in a canal in Bydgoszcz, northern Poland, Wednesday. Officials say the documents of missing 21-year-old Irish soccer fan James Nolan were found on the body. Photo: AP
James at his recent 21st birthday with parents Jimmy and Essie
A picture in the home of James Nolan with some of his sports trophies reporters and Fiach Kelly

THE BODY found in a Polish river earlier today has been identified as James Nolan – the 21-year-old Irish student missing in the city of Bydgoszcz – Polish media reported this afternoon.

More than 100 officers and specialist divers have been searching the Brda river for the last three days.

The body was pulled from the river at a marina near Bydgoszcz Cathedral, some 200 metres from where he was last seen.

With very few Irish left in the town, local people have started to leave candles and flowers at the scene.

Environmental engineering student James, who travelled to Euro 2012 with a group of friends in a campervan, was last seen in the early hours of Sunday morning.

TVN24 in Poland and other media outlets reported that police had confirmed that the body was that of James Nolan.

The reports also said that a wallet was found with the body which included identification.

Police spokeswoman Monika Chlebicz said that the body was found early Wednesday in the waters of a channel flowing through the city of Bydgoszcz, between Poznan and Gdansk where James and his fans watched the Ireland games.

James' family is expected to arrive in the Polish city later this evening.

The Blessington, Co Wicklow man was in Poland since June 7 for the European Championships.

Gardai said today that they were aware of local reports that a body had been found could not confirm further.

The Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed that Polish police had informed it that a body had been found.

A massive search operation to locate missing James resumed this morning with the Polish police commissioner making it one of his force's top priorities.

It is understood James and his Irish friends may have been involved in an altercation with Polish locals in the hours before he disappeared.

Bydgoszcz is halfway between Poznan and Gdansk, where Ireland played their Euro 2012 games, and the Irish friends stopped off on Saturday night on their way back to Poznan to watch Ireland's game against Italy.

Police divers searched the River Brda, which runs through the city, on Monday and yesterday and were doing so again today when the body was found. More than 100 officers are working on the case, and they are being assisted by top gardai.

Six of Mr Nolan's friends were in a police station yesterday to give statements, DNA samples and review CCTV footage.

And the friends who were the last to see Mr Nolan last night added their voices to appeals for information that could help locate him.

"We've have been watching CCTV all day," said Eoin Burke.

"They are helping us out as much as they can, you can see they're putting serious resources into it. You can see the signs up around town and it's on crimecall tonight."

Others in the group included Aidan Willoughby, Aaron Eustace and Adam Cullen and the local police last night said they were free to go.

Mr Eustace has said he will stay until Mr Nolan is found, although it is understood a number of the wider group of around 15 are considering leaving in the coming days because they have rented camper vans to return.

Monika Chlebicz, the spokeswoman for the regional police force, said around 100 officers were working on the case on Monday, but this had increased even further by last night. "Everything is under scrutiny," she said. "But we can't say what happened on the night."

Chief Superintendent Michael O'Sullivan is leading the delegation of gardai to Poland for the Euros, and he arrived in Bydgoszcz last night to help out Polish police with their inquiries.

"We're just liaising with the police here in terms of what assistance we can give them from Ireland."

A Twitter campaign aimed at finding Nolan, who studies environment engineering at Tallaght Institute of Technology in Dublin, was launched in Ireland with #FindJames and #JamesNolan.

Irish Independent

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