Monday 23 April 2018

Missing persons investigation upgraded to murder probe six years after man went missing

Patrick Heeran (48) who disappeared from his home at Aughavas, Co Leitrim in October 2011.
Patrick Heeran (48) who disappeared from his home at Aughavas, Co Leitrim in October 2011. Newsdesk Newsdesk

Gardaí have launched a murder investigation six years after a man who went missing from a west of Ireland town.

Pat Heeran (48) was last seen in Mohill, Co Leitrim at 4.20pm on the 3rd October, 2011.

He was reported missing to gardaí on October 14.

Gardai will hold a public appeal for information in the town tomorrow.

It is understood a search is underway in the Leitrim area.

In the years since Mr Heeran went missing two gardaí involved in the investigation claimed that senior management failed to inform them about a serious threat to their safety because the criminal targeting them was allegedly working as an "off-the-books" informant.

Instead they say that the informant –   who is a suspect in the disappearance of Mr Heeran – was protected by other officers.

It is claimed that the homes of the two gardai were monitored by a three-man gang who were prepared to attack them and damage their property.

A large search continued for a number of months after Mr Heeran disappeared but it proved fruitless. It is thought he may have been killed over a drugs debt.

Last year the Dáil heard allegations that senior gardaí did not seal off the scene in a timely fashion and the house was subsequently burgled leading to the contamination of evidence.

 Sinn Féin TD Martin Kenny said:

"When local gardaí arrived at the home of Mr Heeran to check into the report that he was missing, they considered the possibility of something sinister and wanted to have the house sealed off as a possible crime scene.

"However, senior gardaí dismissed this possibility and told them to make the usual inquiries and that he would turn up drunk somewhere.

"After some time, when Garda management finally agreed to seal off and examine the house, they found it had been burgled in the meantime and was therefore forensically violated for the purposes of evidence-gathering."

Speaking that week a cousin of Mr Heeran, Damien Brennan, said the family's hope was now focused on the return of their loved one's remains.

"We are realistic enough to know that it has been a long time and in those circumstances the main ambition would be to get his body back, so we can bring closure to the situation," he said.

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