Gardai investigating the disappearance of bank worker Trevor Deely are focusing on a small group of criminals who operated crime rackets in the area around Dublin’s Grand Canal where the 22 year old was last seen.
etectives have contacted several of these individuals, some of whom are no longer involved in crime, in an attempt to corroborate new information that Mr Deely was shot by a criminal and buried in wasteland in west Dublin — now the focus of an intensive search.
Mr Deely disappeared on December 8, 2000, as he made his way home from his office Christmas party to his apartment in Ballsbridge.
The last sighting of him was captured on a CCTV camera that filmed him walking across Baggot Street Bridge towards Haddington Road at 4.14am, after which he vanished without trace.
The informant, who came forward in recent months, has suggested Mr Deely was attacked and shot by a criminal after a chance encounter on Haddington Road.
The informant has provided limited details about what exactly happened to Mr Deely, according to sources, and did not provide a motive for his killing. Nor did he provide an exact location as to where he was buried.
However, it is understood the person did identify the alleged killer as a criminal and drug dealer who operated around the Baggot Street Bridge area.
A Garda source said although they have not corroborated the informant’s account, they believe the information is credible enough to warrant the detailed search of the three-acre Dublin City Council site which is close to Chapelizod.
The search, now in its second week, will resume tomorrow. Gardai have refused to comment on reports that a gun was found on the fifth day of the search, and privately sources have played down its significance. One source said they will only know if it is relevant to the investigation if a body is found.
In the meantime, detectives have approached former dealers, criminals and former prostitutes who operated in the Baggot Street area around the time Mr Deely disappeared. Most had been interviewed earlier by the original garda team but a number of witnesses who were in the area at the time have since died, according to sources close to the investigation,
The criminal focus of the investigation is a departure from the original inquiry which centred on the possibility that Mr Deely may have fallen into the Grand Canal or the Dodder River, both on his route home.
The area where Mr Deely disappeared was as leafy and salubrious then as it is now. But by night, the area used to be one of city's vice districts, the haunt of criminals, drug dealers, kerb crawlers and prostitutes.
Trevor Deely's workplace at Bank of Ireland Asset Management on Wilton Place was in the middle of the strip, which straddled either side of Baggot Street Bridge, by the Grand Canal, and along Haddington Road.
The women who worked these streets were often drug addicts. It was not unusual to see lone men standing in the shadows, in doorways or dark corners, watching from a distance the women they were with, as pimps or otherwise.
One garda source said robberies were common - men were regarded as easy prey because they rarely, if ever, reported robberies to gardai.
Two years before Mr Deely disappeared, Sinead Kelly (21) was found stabbed to death on the bank of the Grand Canal, on the stretch between Baggot Street Bridge and Herbert Place. She was a heroin addict who had been working as a prostitute in the area. Her inquest was told that witnesses heard her screaming "someone help me" and saw two men running in different directions. One suspect was a notorious drug dealer said to have ordered Ms Kelly's murder because of a €850 drug debt. Other suspects were involved in prostitution and crime. Her murder remains unsolved.
The last sighting of Trevor Deely was near where Ms Kelly was murdered. On the night of his Christmas party, he called into his office after leaving a night club. He checked some emails, collected an umbrella then left. He was captured on CCTV walking on Baggot Street Bridge towards Haddington Road at 4.14am and was never seen again.
Gardai could find no evidence that anything sinister had happened to him. The dominant theory at the time was that he may have drowned. But extensive searches of the Grand Canal and the Dodder River proved fruitless.
When gardai at Pearse Street station launched a cold-case review of the investigation last year, a key line of inquiry was the possibility that he may have been attacked. Digitally enhanced CCTV footage showed new detail of a man dressed in black talking to him outside his office, and later apparently following him as he walked towards Haddington Road.
Gardai are still trying to identify this man.
Last week, there was speculation that one of the suspects for the murder of Sinead Kelly was implicated in Mr Deely's disappearance. Sources close to the investigation have dismissed these reports.
Such has been the interest in the search for Trevor Deely that gardai have had to apply to the Irish Aviation Authority to make the three-acre search site a no-fly zone last week because of people using drones in the area. Tomorrow, an earth mover and two diggers will be used to clear sections of the site. The search is expected to continue for a fortnight.