Sait Murrin-Canbullu, 15, from Sligo town but living recently in Co Wexford, was located in Ballymote, Co Sligo late yesterday afternoon, about 28 hours after he disappeared.
Gardaí issued a rare Child Rescue Ireland (CRI) alert on Saturday evening after receiving reports that Sait had been approached by two men wearing ski masks or balaclavas, who bundled him into a black saloon car with tinted windows in Wexford town at 1.10pm that day.
A CRI alert is issued when there is grave concern about a missing minor, and involves a nationwide media and social media campaign, notices on all motorways and in all public transport stations, Garda updates every few hours and appeals to the public for assistance.
Just before 1pm yesterday, the Garda press office announced the alert had been called off, saying that after reviewing CCTV footage and re-interviewing witnesses, it had become clear that Sait had not been abducted but had gone with the men willingly.
“We’re satisfied there is not an immediate and serious risk to the child’s welfare and on that basis we are standing down the CRI alert,” said Inspector John Ferris.
By tea-time yesterday, Gardaí had called off the search completely, confirming they had found Sait in a house in Ballymote. They are now reviewing the investigation and the information supplied to them by witnesses on Saturday.
Earlier, Sait’s distraught mother, Hilda Murrin, had issued a Facebook appeal, saying she was worried sick about her son and begging people to take time to look at his photo and help find him. His young cousins and other relatives in Sligo had also joined in the appeals.
Sait, who has a Turkish father and Irish mother, is one of 11 siblings and he previously made headlines in 2007 when he was mauled by a dog belonging to a circus visiting Sligo.
He was seven years old at the time and he and other children were playing near the circus when they were chased by a Rottweiller- German Shepherd cross that bit his face and arm.