Tuesday 20 August 2019

Gardaí need witness 'from eight to 80'

Michael Sheridan says investigators have left no stone unturned in the hunt for missing Dublin man, Trevor Deely

TREVOR Deely had everything going for him. He was 22, he had a good job, a loving and close-knit family and everything in life to look forward to until the early hours of December 8, 2000 when he literally disappeared without a trace.

Trevor worked in the Bank of Ireland Asset Mangement headquarters in the very distinctive building which overlooks Leeson Street, Dublin. He was, as his father Michael described him in an interview, a "happy camper" and was popular with his colleagues at BIAM.

The night of his disappearance, he attended the bank's Christmas party. The weather was very bad that night with strong, swirling winds and heavy rain. That may have affected those of an older generation, but not a group of twenty-somethings intent on a good night out. The taxi strike was in full swing, so the revellers would end up walking home. This was no problem for Trevor, as a Leeson Street club was the last port of call, and he would only have to walk to Serpentine Avenue, a distance of about two miles.

The group's first stop had been at Copperface Jacks in Harcourt St. Shortly before 9pm they headed for the Hilton Hotel, just over Charlemont Bridge on the banks of the Grand Canal. The group was in high spirits as photographs taken during the evening have shown. At 12.20am, Trevor was recorded on video taking £60 out of the ACC Bank ATM on Charlemont Street.

Around 2.15am, the party left the hotel, walked to Leeson Street and adjourned to Buck Whaleys. At 3.30am, Trevor left the club and minutes later arrived at the back entrance to the BIAM building where he intended to collect an umbrella for the journey to Serpentine Avenue.

The security camera recorded his arrival, but when the footage was examined another man was spotted beside the railings at the front of the laneway leading into the back entrance.

Trevor had a cup of tea, chatted with a colleague working the nightshift and then left the office at 4am. Again he was recorded on the security camera leaving at 4.02am. Despite media reports which stated that the same man was visible again on the video footage, the Sunday Independent can confirm that there was no sign of the man. There is no shelter in that location and given the weather it is highly unlikely that he would have remained there for very long.

The most direct route to the next point where Trevor was spotted was down Wilton Terrace to Baggot Street Bridge.

The most natural route to take then would have been down Baggot Street to Jury's Hotel and out Merrion Road to Serpentine Avenue. It arguably would be the safest route, well lit and possibly more populated, however sparsely. However, Trevor decided to take a darker and potentially more dangerous route.

He crossed Baggot Street Bridge and headed down Haddington Road. Just beyond the junction he was recorded on the security camera above the Bank of Ireland ATM. He was holding the distinctive umbrella he had collected at BIAM. Significantly, although his stride was a bit unsteady, the umbrella remained upright without any sign of being blown to either side. Thirty seconds later a man in dark clothes and a woollen hat passed and about a minute after that a well-dressed couple walked by. The man held an umbrella in one hand and again it was steady, with no sign of high winds.

Is the man in the woollen hat the same as the one recorded at the back entrance to BIAM? We consulted an expert, who examined both sets of footage. He pointed out the fact that there seemed to be a reflection from the jacket of the man at the rear of the BIAM, indicating that he was wearing a leather jacket. This was not true of the man seen passing the ATM of the bank on Baggot St Bridge. The expert conclusion was that the recordings were of two different men.

The couple recorded passing the ATM on Baggot St came forward to help with the enquiry. But unfortunately they had no memory of seeing Trevor or any incident.

There was one other figure on the footage, that of a young woman, who was scantily dressed considering the weather conditions. She has not come forward.

Trevor had passed a security camera at 4.14am. This was the last sighting of the young man. Nothing has been heard from him since and his bank account has remained untouched.

Despite an unprecedented publicity campaign, no member of the public has come forward with any information.

In the city of Dublin, in shops and on lamposts it is almost impossible to escape the image of Trevor Deely and his very distinctive boyish good looks. It is disturbing to pause and consider that the poster contains the photograph of a young man who has disappeared without trace and left his family devastated and living an unending nightmare.

There was the man with the assured walk behind the couple. His body language was not one of a drunk. It is inconceivable that he is not aware that a man who walked ahead of him that night has gone missing. Apart from the media attention, if the man has ever walked the same direction again he is confronted by images of Trevor all the way down the road. There may be others that know something and for other reasons may not want to come forward, like the scantily-dressed girl on the ATM footage.

The initial theory suggested Trevor might have been blown into the canal waters. This means he would have had to take a left turn off Haddington Road, just beyond Crawfords Garage, and walked to Percy Place. This was taking him away from the direction of his flat for no logical reason. But of all the possible routes back to his apartment in Ballsbridge, this was by far the most dangerous. Just four weeks earlier a young man at the end of a night out had fallen into the canal and drowned. His body was found two days later.

To test that theory, the gardaí drained the canal and all the locks were searched. Most bodies found in the canal have been located within a short distance of entry. Sniffer-dog units searched every possible route Trevor might have taken and air support was brought in to search along the beaches from Dollymount to Killiney. Sub-aqua teams also searched Dublin Bay. House-to-house enquiries were undertaken in Haddington Road and along the route to Serpentine Avenue.

A report that suggested Trevor might have been blown into the Dodder and swept out to sea has been described as "pure speculation" by sources close to the investigation.

THE search for some clue, however tentative, did not stop. Around 50 videos in various locations in the area between Haddington Road and Serpentine Avenue have been examined. Derelict buildings and parks have been checked with the aid of sniffer-dogs.

Having turned into Haddington Road in a parallel direction to Serpentine Avenue, Trevor Deely had several options in which route to take. He could have turned right at the bottom of Haddington Road, on to Northumberland Road, past Jury's and straight to the junction of Serpentine Avenue opposite the new Four Seasons Hotel. The crossing of the Dodder on the bridge would have presented the only real danger, but the footpath is so wide and the parapet so high it would be most unlikely that a young man of Trevor's stature would be lifted up and thrown over. In fact even in high winds, Baggot St Bridge would have been more dangerous to cross.

A second option would have been to continue on past the junction of Haddington Road and Northumberland Road past Beggars Bush and right towards Landsdowne Road, left into Lansdowne Road and past the stadium and over the bridge into Herbert Road. There is a gap at the left-hand side leading to a grassy bank but it is truncated by a metal pole. The parapet of the bridge is waist high to a tall man and would prove difficult to fall over without being in a leaning position or being attacked and pushed over. Any other route beyond Beggars Bush or the South Lotts Road would have led Trevor in the opposite direction to his destination.

Nine weeks later, experts and investigators are mystified no one is any nearer to providing an explanation of what happened. Nothing has been ruled out and what is desperately needed is a witness "from eight to 80" as an investigator says.

Abduction, mugging or random assault have and will be considered. If any eye witness comes forward, action will be taken. The toll on Trevor Deely's parents and family is unimaginable, their missing son is constantly in their minds, as his image is in ours.

One small vital piece of information could end their suffering. The confidential Garda phone line is: 1800 666 111.

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