Trevor Deely case is 'one of the most baffling' in my time with specialist Garda unit
In September 1998, I was appointed as national co-ordinator for Operation TRACE, a specialist Garda unit set up to investigate the disappearance of six females in a three-year period in an area that came to be known as the 'Vanishing Triangle'.
These cases included such high-profile disappearances as American student Annie McCarrick and Fiona Pender, a young expectant mother who disappeared from her flat in Tullamore, Co Offaly.
I stayed in this role until my retirement 13 years later.
A number of other cases, both historical and current, were revisited as part of our ongoing investigations. This included the disappearance on December 8, 2000 of Trevor Deely. Trevor's case was always considered to be one of the most baffling of all the disappearances we were tasked with examining.
Unlike in some of our other investigations, Trevor had not gone missing while walking on some remote country road in the dark of night, nor had he not been seen for a number of days.
Quite the contrary; his movements can be viewed on CCTV footage obtained by the investigating gardaí from business premises in the Baggot Street area of central Dublin. He can be clearly seen walking in the direction of Haddington Road.
However, despite intensive Garda investigations, no trace of Trevor was ever found after that date. The normal investigative steps following on the report of a missing person include checks on bank and other savings accounts, airport and ferryport checks, inquiries with all the various hospitals and health clinics.
These were carried out without success. His personal life was examined to see if any 'push/pull' factor could be identified that might have caused him to leave home and not contact his loved ones. These factors can include personal difficulties, volatile relationships and work-related issues.
In his case, no such factor was identified. This would tend to suggest that his leaving was not voluntary.
Trevor's case sparked huge media interest.
It was certainly one of those cases that captured the public's imagination. Here was a young man, on the cusp of his adult life, doing nothing more mundane than enjoying a Christmas night out with work colleagues, who turned from one main road on to another and was never seen again.
This year marks the 17th anniversary of Trevor's disappearance. In the intervening years, his family have continued with their campaign to ensure the search for Trevor continues.
I personally am only too well aware of how quickly today's outrage becomes tomorrow's statistic in police work.
With the best will in the world, the case will, as each new day dawns, become a little less prioritised. This is not a deliberate act on the part of the investigating gardaí, it is simply because new crimes will continue to have to be investigated.
His family has never allowed Trevor's case to be forgotten and it is in no small part due to their campaigning that the case is still moving forward.
There have been many false dawns in the Garda investigation into Trevor Deely's case over the years.
For his sake, for the sake of his family and for the sake of all those other families who daily suffer the unexplained loss of a loved one, I pray that there will be a successful outcome to this search.
Alan Bailey is a former Detective Sergeant with the Garda Serious Crime Review Team