Gardai renew appeal for information on murder of prostitute (26) in 1996

Belinda Pereira (26) was found dead at a Dublin apartment on December 29, 1996.

Jennifer McShane

Gardai have launched a new appeal for information in a bid to track down the killer of a prostitute whose body was found at a Dublin apartment some 18 years ago.

Belinda Pereira (26) was found dead at Mellor’s Court in Liffey Street, Dublin 1, where she had been staying on December 29, 1996.

She had sustained severe head injuries from a blunt instrument. There were no traces of drugs found in her body.

She had arrived in Ireland from London on Christmas Eve and had planned to return to Britain on New Year's Day.

An extensive garda investigation took place at the time of her murder. Hundreds of people were interviewed and more than 350 statements were taken, as well as a large number of fingerprints and blood samples.

The investigation into her murder revealed it was likely she either knew her killer or did not suspect any attack at the time.

There was no sign of forced entry at her apartment and no injuries on her body to suggest a struggle.

Her killer has never been found.

Ms Pereira was born in London to Sri Lankan parents who had moved to Britain in the mid-sixties.

She was the couple's only daughter.

Ms Pereira had left school when she was 16 and had worked in several short-term jobs including as a temporary shorthand typist.

Her parents were unaware of her life as a prostitute, and it is understood they believed she had a well-paid office jobs.

On December 24, 1996, Belinda took up occupancy of a two-bedroomed apartment at Liffey Court. Gardai established through telephone records that Belinda was alive up to 10pm on Saturday, December 28, 1996.

Her body was found by the landlord of the apartment the following afternoon.

Investigating officers know that there are people who were close to the persons involved at the time and have details, which would give some closure to the victim’s family.

Investigating Gardaí are appealing to those people to do the right thing, make contact now and provide the information in their possession to the Incident Room at Store Street Garda Station 01 6668000, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111 or any Garda station.

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At the time of Ms Pereira's murder in the mid-1990s, there were a large number of massage parlours operating in Dublin, many from privately rented apartments with the contact numbers listed in the back pages of a popular city magazine.

Despite extensive searches in the apartment complex and neighbouring streets as well as the River Liffey, no murder weapon has yet been found although the ferocity of the blows to her head suggest a lump hammer or other blunt instrument was used.

Gardai interviewed a large number of people working in Ireland's sex trade at the time as well as a number of known clients.

Like other young women who travelled from Britain to Dublin at that time she could have expected to earn about £190 per hour. The Dublin of a decade ago was very different to the multi-cultural melting pot of today and a woman with exotic foreign looks would have been working at the higher end of the prostitution market.

But Ms Pereira was also working in a world where women were vulnerable and because she operated from a private flat would have had no means of protection.

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