Missing women cases to be kept open

A Garda chief has renewed appeals to people with information about the high-profile cases of missing women to end the “living nightmare” of families and come forward.

Missing women cases to be kept open

Assistant Commissioner Derek Byrne says there “must be” people with information that could unlock the cases and urged them to use confidential reporting systems.

Mr Byrne was speaking at the launch of the 2014 report of Crimestoppers, a joint initiative between the Garda Siochána and businesses operating since 1998.

He said calls to the freephone helpline, 1800 250025, had led to a number of successes, including:

  • Recovery of vital forensic evidence in relation to an attempted murder.
  • Arrest of a man for internet-based sexual offences.
  • Seizure of a viable firearm.

He said growing threats were in the areas of cybercrime, including online fraud and identity theft, as well as the theft of valuable metals and expensive farm machinery.

One of the posters at yesterday’s event was for Fiona Pender, one of six women who went missing in suspicious circumstances in the 1990s. Ms Pender, 25, disappeared from her flat in Tullamore, in August 1996.

Another woman, Annie McCarrick, 26, originally from New York, went missing this month 23 years ago.

The others are Jo Jo Dullard, 21, from Callan, Co Kilkenny, was last seen in Moone, Co Kildare, in November 1995; Ciara Breen, 17, who went missing in Dundalk, in February 1997; Fiona Sinnott, 19, who went missing from Bridgetown, Co Wexford in February 1998; and Deirdre Jacob, 18, who vanished from outside her home in Newbridge, Co Kildare, in July 1998.

Mr Byrne, who runs the Garda National Support Services, said Crimestoppers have run appeals in a number of these cases.

“We do get a great level of interest when we do publish them, but know there has been no detections. We live in hope that through the Crimestoppers line or any other means, that anybody with information would come forward. Those files remain open and active and we are ready to go in a heartbeat with any new information.”

He said there “must be” people with information and said the launch of the report was an ideal opportunity to renew appeals to them to come forward.

Mr Byrne said the “families are living a nightmare for many years” and urged those with information to think of them.

He said the helpline was performing very well with consistently around 138 calls every month.

“They cross the full crime threat areas, predominantly drugs, abuses, child protection issues, sexual abuses, thefts — and we’ve had success in terms of recovery of firearms.”

The garda chief said cyber crime was an important area they were “watching very closely”, some of it involving organised crime groups.

He said dedicated criminals were targeting home computers, often those operating on open networks, and infecting them. This allows them steal sensitive personal data and sell it for profit.

crimestoppers.ie; Freephone 1800 250025

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