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Ex-INLA man is prime suspect in Pickard case

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Charles Brooke Pickard who has been missing since 1991

Charles Brooke Pickard who has been missing since 1991

Charles Brooke Pickard who has been missing since 1991

A former INLA terrorist is the prime suspect in the disappearance of Charles Brooke Pickard who vanished without a trace 25 years ago.

Mr Pickard - a father of four - has been missing since April 26, 1991, when he left his family home near Castlecove to help a neighbour cut turf.

The last time Mr Pickard (43) - an Englishman who had been living in the area for eight years - was ever seen was at White Strand near Castlecove.

A young local girl who was out horse-riding saw Mr Pickard being bundled into his own van by five armed, balaclava-wearing men who then sped from the scene.

The distinctive blue van was eventually found burned out in a forest near Waterville three weeks later. No trace of Mr Pickard was ever found.

This week Gardaí launched a new appeal seeking the public's help in solving the 25-year-old mystery and bringing some closure to the Pickard family.

The case featured on RTE's CrimeCall on Monday night when Mr Pickard's son Crohan and his wife Penny made an emotional appeal to anyone who may have any information as to what happened Brooke Pickard on that fateful day.

While mystery surrounds exactly what happened, Gardaí believe Mr Pickard was kidnapped by a northern Irish criminal gang who were attempting to rob him.

Though there is not thought to be any paramilitary link to the kidnapping, the leader of the gang is believed to be a former INLA terrorist who has been linked to numerous incidents of robbery and blackmail in Northern Ireland.

This man is known to have spent time in the Castlecove and Caherdaniel area in the weeks immediately preceding Mr Pickard's disappearance.

It is thought the gang targeted Mr Pickard because they had been told - entirely incorrectly - that he had recently acquired a large sum of money.

In 2000 Gardaí successfully fought to have the former INLA man extradited to the Republic to question him in connection with the Pickard case.

The Kerryman understands that interviews did take place but that the information gained was not enough to file charges.

Anyone with information should contact Killarney Garda Station on (064) 6631222.

Kerryman