Tuesday 20 March 2018

Fiona: An independent young mother

Fiona's sister Diane Sinnott and mother Mary Sinnott. Picture: Gerry Mooney
Fiona's sister Diane Sinnott and mother Mary Sinnott. Picture: Gerry Mooney
Fiona Sinnott
Joyce Fegan

Joyce Fegan

Fiona Sinnott was an independent 19-year-old who, after breaking up with the father of her 11-month-old child, was living in rented accommodation with her daughter Emma in Ballyhitt, Co Wexford.

Ballyhitt is about 16km from her family home in Bridgetown and while she was in regular touch with her parents Mary and Pat and four older siblings, it was normal for six or seven days to go by without any contact.

On Sunday February 8, 1998, Fiona was out with three friends in her local pub Butler's, which was about a one-mile walk to her rented cottage.

She left the pub shortly after closing time, intending to walk back to her rented accommodation.

This was the last time she was seen alive in public. It was Fiona's father Pat who would eventually report her missing, and due to the pattern of communication with her family it would take until February 18 before he approached the gardaí. During those 10 days, her home had undergone an "extensive" clear-out, according to retired detective sergeant Alan Bailey, who spent 13 years investigating the case.

"At one stage during this period, one local would even remark that on one day alone, he had observed over a dozen black refuse sacks lined up for collection outside the front of the house," he wrote in his book 'Missing, Presumed'.

A local farmer had approached gardaí about black refuse sacks on his land. He found correspondence and containers with the name Fiona Sinnott on them at an address in Wexford.

Various leads were followed up and enquiries made but they all led to dead-ends. A technical examination was carried out of her home and no evidence of foul play was found there.

It was 2005 before gardaí escalated their enquiry to a full murder investigation.

Irish Independent

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