Sunday 18 March 2018

Lonely field in mountains could hide Philip Cairns' grave

Isolated tract of land overlooking capital is where gardaí believe schoolboy was buried

The isolated field which may hold the secret to Philip Cairns disappearance
The isolated field which may hold the secret to Philip Cairns disappearance
The area of land in the Dublin mountains once owned by Eamon Cooke where gardaí will begin a search for the remains of Philip. Photo: Damien Eagers

Paul Williams

A tract of land in the foothills of the Dublin mountains is now at the centre of the garda investigation into the abduction of schoolboy Philip Cairns.

The Irish Independent can reveal that the corner of an isolated field, which overlooks the capital, was once the site used by paedophile Eamon Cooke to transmit a signal for his pirate radio station.

A number of witnesses have told gardaí that they saw Cooke using a digger on the property more than 30 years ago when he positioned a radio signal repeater.

It has been claimed that the serial child abuser concealed a container 20ft underground on the site, where he also once kept a caravan.

Philip Cairns pictured on his Confirmation Day and (inset) his mother Alice Cairns
Philip Cairns pictured on his Confirmation Day and (inset) his mother Alice Cairns

Read more: 'This is the strongest lead we've ever had in Philip Cairns' case' - former detective Gerry O'Carroll

Gardaí are now expected to focus on the plot of land and will make a decision in the coming days on digging there.

The scenic hillside location has become a potential crime scene after Cooke was linked to the mysterious disappearance of Philip Cairns in October 1986.

A woman, who was aged nine at that time, has told gardaí that she saw the schoolboy being beaten to death by Cooke in his radio studio in Inchicore on the day that he went missing.

It is understood that Cooke had arranged to bring Philip Cairns to his radio station.

It is believed that Philip reacted furiously when Cooke made an advance on him and that in the ensuing row the young boy was assaulted and killed.

In the confusion, Philip's schoolbag was left in the car and not discovered by Cooke until some time later.

Cooke persuaded another of his young victims to dump the bag in a laneway the following week, it is now believed.


Fresh information, which gardaí have described as the most credible lead they have received since the abduction, has injected new life into one of the country's longest-running child-abduction mysteries.

The Irish Independent understands that gardaí are preparing to carry out a forensic search of the property as part of their effort to locate the remains of the missing boy.

Detectives visited the site yesterday and it has also emerged that they have spoken to the current landowner - who had no connection with Cooke and is not suspected of any involvement with any crime.

One eyewitness has told of seeing Cooke using a JCB to dig a large hole on the property but said the DJ never divulged what he was doing at the time.

While gardaí admit that they may be "looking for a needle in a haystack", they are determined to identify and search any lands in the Dublin mountains that was used by the former owner of the illegal Radio Dublin.

A number of sources who contacted the Irish Independent also confirmed that the area of land was once used by Cooke, who died almost two weeks ago.

This is the first potential crime scene associated with the disappearance of Philip Cairns since his schoolbag was mysteriously dumped in a laneway in Rathfarnham, close to the boy's home, six days after he had vanished on October 23, 1986.

Last month, Cooke confirmed to detectives on his deathbed that he knew Philip Cairns and that the boy had been in his radio studio.

Read more: 'Large number of people' come forward about potential leads in missing Philip Cairns case

It is understood that gardaí also independently corroborated aspects of the woman's story.

One of the enduring mysteries of the teenage boy's disappearance was how his schoolbag was deliberately placed in a laneway close to his home a week after he had vanished.

Detectives are also understood to have made progress in tracing another former child victim who, it is alleged, was instructed by Cooke to dump the bag.

This separate development in the investigation came to light when another one of Cooke's victims divulged the girl's identity to a community worker who supports sex abuse survivors.

Meanwhile, gardaí are also awaiting analysis of three separate DNA samples found on Philip's schoolbag, which will be cross-referenced with Cooke's DNA.

The samples are described as low-level and were left by people touching the satchel.

Irish Independent

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