Thursday 5 December 2019

Irish fan missing at Euro 2016 for 24 hours found safe and well

Missing fan Lee McLaughlin, inset, Irish fans celebrating during the Sweden game on Monday
Missing fan Lee McLaughlin, inset, Irish fans celebrating during the Sweden game on Monday
Lee McLaughlin (20)

Ralph Riegel and Wayne O'Connor

A young Irish fan missing in Paris at Euro 16 for 24 hours has been found safe and well.

Lee McLaughlin (19) was found thanks to Gardaí and French police with the assistance of appeals for information from the Football Association of Ireland (FAI).

The Ibis hotel in Montmarte
The Ibis hotel in Montmarte

Mr McLaughlin is now being reunited with his worried family who had flown from Donegal and London to assist with the search for him in Paris.

It is understood that telephone contact was made with the young man early this morning.

Following a series of texts, his location was determined in Paris city centre and he was found safe.

It is understood that French police used high-tech 'ping' mobile phone tracing technology to determine the whereabouts of the young man.

Lee vanished from his hotel in the Montmartre area of Paris yesterday.

The young man appears to have left the hotel shortly after 11am.

He had apparently returned from a night out but then left his hotel again a short time later.

All his possessions including his passport and bags were in his room.

Lee was due to fly by EasyJet to stay with his sister in London but never checked in for the flight to Luton.

She raised the alarm when he failed to arrive as planned in Luton.

His sister and brother, Rosemarie and Jordan, issued an appeal for information on his whereabouts via social media.

FAI chief executive, John Delaney, also issued an appeal for information so the young man could be brought home safely.

Irish supporters clubs began using social media in a bid to assist the gardai and the French authorities.

French police checked CCTV security camera footage from the hotel and

Montmartre area to determine where the young man may have gone.

The young man was in Paris for Ireland's Euro 16 match against Sweden at Stade de France with his father and another relative.

Friends said he was enjoying himself in Paris with his disappearance being described as "totally out of character".

A formal missing person report had been filed.

A team consisting of two gardaí and local police worked through to night to locate Mr McLaughlin.

He will now receive precautionary medical attention before flying home.

Supt Gerry Delmar said he was happy  the young man was reunited with his family.

"We would like to thank everyone involved including the local police, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the FAI and my colleagues for their efforts in making sure the man was safe.

"Cooperation with the local police was key and we are thankful we were able to find him."

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