Tuesday 23 October 2018

Search for missing Tina Satchwell in Castlemartyr woods ends

Inset: Missing woman Tina Satchwell
Inset: Missing woman Tina Satchwell
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

GARDAÍ searching for missing woman Tina Satchwell (45) have ended their operation in a sprawling Cork forest.

A team of 60 personnel have been painstakingly searching Mitchel's Wood outside Castlemartyr in east Cork over the past 12 days without any breakthrough in the hunt for Tina, who vanished without trace from her Youghal home on March 20 2017.

Gardaí staged a major operational review today, where the decision was made to begin winding down the forestry search.

Specialist dog search teams from the UK left the scene several days ago and additional Defence Forces units, which had been scheduled to be deployed, will not now be required.

All search assets remain deployed at Mitchel's Wood but these will gradually be removed over the next 48 hours.

Gardaí confirmed their search was now over and thanked the public for their support

Tina’s husband Richard near their home in Youghal, Co Cork
Tina’s husband Richard near their home in Youghal, Co Cork

"A number of items recovered during the course of this search will now be examined to establish whether they are related to the disappearance of Tina," a garda spokesman said.

"Gardaí would also like to thank members of the public who have come forward with new information which will now be investigated.

"The site remains closed to the public until further notice."

While items of interest have been uncovered by the search team, nothing of significance is believed to have been found in 12 days of intensive operations in the forest and scrubland.

Items removed for an analysis at the State Laboratory - including fragments of clothing - are only being checked on a precautionary basis.

Gardaí earmarked 40 acres of the woodland as a priority search area.

Garda search teams have been supported by Defence Forces engineering units and Search Dogs UK since the operation was launched on March 5.

Streams and rivers adjacent to the woodland were also searched by the Garda Sub Aqua Unit.

Gardai searching at Mitchell’s Wood, Castlemartyr, Co Cork, for evidence relating to the disappearance of Tina Satchwell. Photo: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision.
Gardai searching at Mitchell’s Wood, Castlemartyr, Co Cork, for evidence relating to the disappearance of Tina Satchwell. Photo: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision.

The search site has been cordoned off behind steel security fencing with the operation supported by mobile spotlights, industrial generators, portacabins, a Garda mobile command centre and even portable toilets.

Supt Colm Noonan is leading the search and chaired today's operational review.

The first anniversary of Tina's disappearance is next Tuesday.

Searches of Mitchel's Wood, located just off the main Cork-Waterford road, were ordered after gardaí received a telephone tip-off that "significant activity" was spotted by a member of the public around the forestry in March last year.

Tina, who is originally from Fermoy, disappeared from her Youghal home while her husband, Richard, claimed he was on an errand to Dungarvan in Waterford.

When he returned, he claimed he spotted Tina's keys lying on the floor.

Two suitcases were missing as well as items of Tina's clothing.

However, her beloved dog, Ruby, was left alone in the house.

The English-born truck driver also claimed that €26,000 in cash, saved from a property sale and the proceeds of car boot sales, was missing from the property.

No trace of Tina was found despite gardaí examining hundreds of hours of CCTV security camera footage.

Tina did not have a passport and no trace of her was found at Irish or UK ports and airports.

Mr Satchwell has insisted he had nothing to do with his wife's disappearance.

"I am still hoping Tina will be found safe and well," he said.

"If you don't have hope, you don't have anything. I will always live in hope because that is all I have.

"I am hoping that Tina is out there and she is going to get in touch.

"I don't want to go down the road of thinking the other way because I wouldn't be able to cope."

However, Mr Satchwell is adamant he does not believe his wife is dead and has suggested she may have had help with her disappearance.

The couple, who met when Tina was 17, were 26 years married last November.

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