Monday 19 March 2018

Richard Satchwell visits woodland being searched for missing wife: 'I felt sick driving down here'

Richard Satchwell at the site earlier today Photo: 3News Ireland
Richard Satchwell at the site earlier today Photo: 3News Ireland
Richard Satchwell ,Tina’s Husband pictured in Youghal Harbour near their home. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

Ralph Riegel and Kathy Armstrong

THE husband of missing woman Tina Satchwell (45) paid a visit to the Cork woodland being intensively searched by Gardaí for her - and said he was praying daily she would be found safe.

Richard Satchwell visited Mitchel's Wood outside Castlemartyr in east Cork for the first time today as a fourth day of a massive Garda search operation failed to uncover any clues as to Tina's whereabouts.

Supt Colm Noonan is leading a 60-strong search team at the 40 acre woodland which includes Defence Forces engineering units and a special canine unit from Search Dogs UK.

The woods is being searched following a telephone tip-off to Gardaí of potentially significant movements being spotted at the forestry in March last year.

Supt Noonan said the search will continue for between two and three weeks.

Tina vanished without trace from her home at Youghal, Co Cork on March 20 2017 - and her husband has repeatedly insisted he had nothing to do with her disappearance.

Mr Satchwell visited the search site today and said he was "hoping and praying" Tina would be located safe and well.

"I am not a religious man but at night I am having a little prayer that everything as regards this just turns up nothing", he told TV3.

"I feel sick - I felt sick driving down here from Youghal and I know it is only a short distance."

"You know, it is a place we have never been - we drove past it on numerous occasions to go to Ballycotton or Garryvoe."

"Obviously, while I was working I had deliveries that I had up around this road but this is the first time I ever stopped off here."

Mr Satchwell said he was very upset at the thought of precisely what the Gardai were looking for in Mitchel's Wood.

"Just the basic thought that, it is a possibility, no matter how small that my wife could be behind them barriers," he said.

"I am sick in the stomach - I would say I have not had three hours sleep since Sunday morning."

"The only sleep I did get was just nodding off while watching the telly."

"I find it difficult because after getting a phone call from An Garda Siochana on Sunday I know what is happening behind me by those barriers there," he said.

"I am trying to fill myself with hope - I have people say to me, how will you cope if it does turn out to answer to that is Iwon't be able to cope."

"(Every night) I am praying and hoping that, like the search in Youghal, it all comes to nothing."

He said the hope that Tina will be found safe and well is what keeps him going.

The English-born truck driver insisted he does not believe he is a suspect in the case.

"They've (Gardaí) not voiced it (that he is a suspect) - but their actions are different," he said.

"I went into the guards of my own accord, I made a statement and I'm not ashamed to say I was an emotional mess, I did more crying than talking."

"No, I did originally (think he was a suspect) but then originally everything was all raw with her being gone, the house was searched. I was confused and now I feel that I am not (a suspect)."

"Anything that the guards ask for I am providing."

"Our (telephone) network has gone into liquidation so I've already swapped the number on her phone because I believe that's the one she would call and the guards have that and I'll be handing the new phone to the guards tomorrow."

Mr Satchwell repeated that he suspected in March last year that his wife had taken time away on her own to deal with personal problems.

She vanished on March 20 but he did not report her missing until March 24, initially believing she had gone to stay with family or friends in Fermoy.

"As a couple we weren't going through a hard time - we celebrated our 25th anniversary just before Christmas and everything was good."

"(Tina) got up Christmas morning and said let's make this our best Christmas we have ever had - for the first time we took photos of Christmas Day."

"There were things going on, I've had people who knew her say you could see the upset in her eyes in those Christmas photos but when you live so close to her you don't see everything that is going on."

"One of Tina's fears was ending up on anti depressants, she made me promise she would never have to, she said that from day one."

Mr Satchwell said his wife vanished when he went on a short errand to Dungarvan.

When he returned to their Youghal home, her keys were on the floor, suitcases were missing and Tina's beloved dog, Ruby, was alone in the house.

Mr Satchwell also said that €26,000 from a property sale was missing from the house.

Despite a huge search operation and repeated Garda public appeals for information, no trace of Tina has been found.

She was not seen on thousands of hours of CCTV security camera footage analysed and no trace of her was found at any Irish or UK port and


The current search followed a phone call to Gardaí from a member of the public after the broadcast last January of an RTE 'PrimeTime' special on Tina's disappearance.

That indicated activity was seen in the vicinity of Mitchel's Wood in March 2017 which may be significant to the ongoing Garda investigation.

Gardaí determined the information was "reliable and credible" and decided to order a major search of Mitchel's Wood.

The search operation is the biggest undertaken in Cork for almost 20 years.

More than 100 metres of steel security fencing has been erected to cordon-off the entrance to the wood.

That has been covered in black plastic sheeting to guard the privacy of what searchers are doing.

A portacabin was brought to the site to act as a resource centre for the search team.

Portable toilets were also brought onto site as well as heavy industrial generators and lighting units.

A Garda communications and incident command vehicle is also deployed on site.

"There have been 220 separate lines of inquiry conducted. This has included liaison with Interpol and we are now conducting a search at Mitchel's Wood," Supt Noonan explained.

"We are looking for evidence in relation to Tina's disappearance and I would appeal to members of the public to stay away from the area -there will be no public access for the duration of this search."

Supt Noonan confirmed they have received all necessary equipment and support for the search of the sprawling woodland.

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