Monday 20 November 2017

Extensive search begins near home of missing Pat Heeran as investigation is upgraded to murder probe

Patrick Heeran (48) who disappeared from his home at Aughavas, Co Leitrim in October 2011.
Patrick Heeran (48) who disappeared from his home at Aughavas, Co Leitrim in October 2011.
Patrick Heeran's sisters Doreen Keegan and Sheila McCrann pictured at his house in Aughavas while members of the defences forces and gardai search a field across the road. press briefing in The Bush Hotel Photo Brian Farrell
Soldiers from the 28th Batt, Finner Camp, and gardai search a field opposite where Patrick Heeran lived. Photo Brian Farrell
Patrick Heeran's sisters Doreen Keegan and Sheila McCrann and their cousin Damian Brennan pictured at the press briefing in The Bush Hotel Photo Brian Farrell

Marese McDonagh

Gardai and Defences Forces personnel today began searching land close to the home of Leitrim man Pat Heeran whose disappearance in October 2011 has been upgraded to a murder investigation.

At a media briefing in Carrick-on-Shannon today, gardai confirmed that the probe into Mr Heeran’s disappearance was upgraded to a murder investigation last October – five years after the 48-year-old was reported missing.

Mr Heeran’s sisters, Sheila McCrann and Dooreen Keegan, watched as officers from the 28th battalion based at Finner camp backed up gardai as they combed meadow and forestry directly opposite Mr Heeran’s home. He lived alone at Cois Easa, a small development in the village of Aughavas near Mohill.

Inspector Ray Mulderring said they were searching for remains, clothing and Mr Herran’s phone which through telephonic technology they know was used in the vicinity of the missing man’s home after the last know sighting on October 3, 2011. Mr Heeran was caught on CCTV at Baxter’s supermarket Mohill on 4.20pm but the items he bought were found in his home.

Inspector Mulderring refused to comment on concerns raised in the Dail about the gardai investigation into Mr Heeran’s disappearance by local Sinn Fein TD Martin Kenny. “I am not here to comment on what is said in the Dail," he said.

Damian Brennan, a former member of Leitrim County Council, and cousin of Mr Heeran said the family was satisfied with the garda investigation. He said he believed he was associating with people who were violent without realising the level of violence they were capable of.

Gardai say that Mr Heeran left his home in circumstances which suggested he “did not plan on leaving for an extended period”. The television and lights had been left on and an open can of cider and cigarettes were left on the table. Inspector Mulderring said there was no evidence that he had been forced from the house at gunpoint and no sign of violence there.

Detectives pointed out that Mr Heeran had no prior history of going missing and had no recorded history of mental illness.

Speaking about the impact on his family Mr Brennan said their lives had been destroyed as it was their first thought every morning and last thought at night. He said it was especially traumatic for their elderly mother Irene who is in her mid 80s and had no grave to visit to grieve for her son.

It has been reported that Mr Heeran was a drug addict and may have fallen foul of a drugs gang.

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