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Wednesday 21 November 2018

Schoolbag may hold DNA clue to disappearance 20 years ago

Shane Hickey

ADVANCES in DNA technology could reveal vital information about the final movements of Philip Cairns, who disappeared 20 years ago today.

A fresh appeal for information about the disappearance of the then 13-year-old schoolboy was made yesterday by his family.

Gardai believe that advances in technology could reveal the identity of the final person to touch Philip's schoolbag, which was found in a laneway near his home six days after his disappearance.

"The person may have been a child who found the bag elsewhere. That child is now an adult and perhaps has a family of their own," said Det Sgt Tom Doyle, one of the investigating officers.

"Or the bag may have been found by an adult at some location and brought to the laneway. It is so important that that person comes forward. We need to find out where they found the schoolbag," he said.

"The bag contains what is called 'Touch DNA'. Over the coming years, we hope a DNA profile can be established to identify people who came in contact with the bag."

Philip was last seen on November 23, 1986, when he left his home at Ballyroan Road in south Dublin on his way to return to the school he had just begun to attend, Colaiste Eanna in Rathfarnham.

He never arrived back at the school.

A Mass was held last night to mark the the anniversary of the eve of his disappearance. Despite extensive investigations, which are ongoing, no trace of Philip has yet been found.

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