Wednesday 13 December 2017

'Mum died not knowing what happened to him' - Fresh appeal for Irish man who went missing in 2008

Caroline O’Donnell (left) and Helen Grealis, whose brother JP went missing in Holland in 2008
Caroline O’Donnell (left) and Helen Grealis, whose brother JP went missing in Holland in 2008

Kathy Armstrong

The heartbroken mother of an Irish man who went missing in 2008 died without getting any answers about what happened to her only son, his sister has said.

James Patrick Grealis (24) vanished in Breda in the Netherlands in October 2008 and this week the Dutch Police launched a fresh appeal for information.

His sister Helen (35) says the heartbreak took over her life for a while and now the family just want to know what happened.

Helen, who is from Achill in Co Mayo, told Independent.ie: "JP went over to the Netherlands to work in April 2007, he was there for about 18 months before he went missing.

"When he went  missing he'd just finished a job the previous Friday and he had moved back to Breda - an area he knew well - on the Sunday to look for work, he went missing that Thursday.

"He would ring home every day or two or one of us would be ringing him, so when we hadn't heard from him we tried to get in touch and then when we couldn't we contacted his friends out there and they hadn't heard from him.
"Thats when we raised the alarm with the police over there and we were there within 24 hours."

Helen, who works as a quality engineer, said her family did everything they could to try to trace JP but they never found anything.

She said: "We hired private detectives, we offered a reward of €20,000 in 2010, we had a cold case team out there.

JP Grealis: went missing on October 23, 2008
JP Grealis: went missing on October 23, 2008

"We actually brought the Dutch police to court for not doing a thorough investigation but we lost that case.

"Mam passed away in October 2015 unfortunately, it was extremely difficult for her.

"I can only imagine how tough it was for her, he was her only son and the poor lady spent years not knowing what happened.

"We did everything we could to try and find out but she went without knowing."

She added: "It's extremely difficult but you have to keep going and remember that you have a life to live.

"It took over my life for a long time in the beginning, it consumed me.

"You get to a point where you have to keep trying to find him but you have to live your own life in parrallel."

Read More: Family vows to keep looking for answers on missing man

Dutch police have previously said they believe that Mr Grealis  broke off contact with his loved ones to start a new life elsewhere, something Helen rejects.

She also admits she doesn't believe he is alive.

She said: "I would love to say that I still have hope he is alive but after all this time I feel that something has happened to him, maybe it's some sort of a crime because after all the investigating we did there has to be more to it.

"I know my brother and he wouldn't do this to his family, he wouldn't just disappear and not just get in touch."

She paid tribute to her brother, saying: "He was very outgoing and sociable, he didn't really worry much, he was very relaxed.

"He was a good worker and a real family man, he had good friends and he was just a happy-go-lucky Irish lad who was living life to the full."

Read More: Missing carpenter's family to sue Dutch police force

Dutch police held a missing person's month in May to raise awareness of a different cold case each day and after a plea by the Grealis family they issued a fresh appeal about JP's case on Wednesday.

Helen hopes this could finally lead to answers and the family may get some closure.

She said: "When JP went missing Facebook wasn't really up and running but we're hoping that this appeal may catch somebody's eye.

"We're hoping that somebody will remember something and can send us on the right path to find out what happened."

For more information please visit here.

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