The army joined Limerick gardaí yesterday in the ongoing search for Richard ‘Happy’ Kelly who has been missing for almost five months. There are fears that he may have fallen foul of a crime gang.
He was last seen alive on the night of April 23 in a stolen car.
As his mother Mary Kelly watched gardaí and soldiers search open ground near her Southill home, she said: “It only hit me on seeing them searching: it is for my son’s body. I always thought he would walk in the door some day. Would those who know where he is ring a priest so I can give him a proper burial. I want to end this living hell.”
Up to 30 members of the defence forces stationed at Sarsfield Barracks joined gardaí in searches in the Southill area. Most of yesterday’s operation was concentrated on a place known as Barry’s Field.
This was the scene of one the city’s most notorious feud murder three years ago when Michael Campbell McNamara was killed.
Gardaí suspect that members of the McCarthy Dundon gang were responsible and nobody has been charged with the crime.
Det Inspector Jim Ryan who coordinated yesterday’s search said it was a continuation of searches already carried out for Richard Kelly.
The missing teenager was a known joy-rider, but gardaí said he was not a serious criminal.
However, local sources in the Southill area have indicated that he may have had a run-in with a local drugs gang. One theory is that he stole a car not knowing it was being used by the gang to stash drugs.
He had always kept in regular contact with his mother on his mobile phone when he was not at home.
However, his phone has been out of commission since he went missing.
The car he was using on the night was found crashed near Annacotty.
Garda divers have already searched the River Mulcair which runs near to where the car was found.
The garda helicopter has also been used in the search and a quarry near Southill was searched yesterday.