Almost a decade ago, the family came to national prominence with the sudden and unexplained disappearance of Dean’s sister, Amy.
On New Year’s Day, 2008, the 15-year-old left her friend, Ashley Rose, with whom she had been babysitting Ashley’s brother at her home in Mijas Costa, Malaga, on the Costa Del Sol. Amy was due back at her own house in the Riviera del Sol development in Mijas Costa not long afterwards. She never made it there.
An extensive search of the area was conducted of the area but, since then, no trace of the teenager has been found. Amy, from Clarehall in Dublin, had been living in Spain along with her brother Dean, mother Audrey, and stepfather Dave Mahon, at the time of her disappearance.
Amy’s mother has pressed on with attempts to locate her daughter and has lambasted what she has claimed is a lack of emphasis on finding her. A number of people have been interviewed regarding her disappearance but no one has ever been charged. There were also reports — angrily denied by her mother — that Amy may have been living rough for a time before she went missing.
Amy’s father, Christopher, has also established a web presence calling on anyone with information about his daughter to make contact.
In April 2010, Amy’s family said they had raised a large reward for anyone who provided information that led directly to the finding of the Irish teenager. At the same event, the efforts of the Irish government and the Spanish Civil Guard were criticised as insufficient.
Prior to last Christmas, Audrey Fitzpatrick told a radio programme she wanted a new, intensive search for her daughter and that she intended to ask a Spanish judge to accede to her request. “I still have a 1% hope she will be found,” she told Newstalk.
Earlier last year, she had visited Spain as part of the search effort, telling a newspaper that “a lot of stuff comes to mind that we were never told until we saw it ourselves”.
“The dirt road Amy walked when last seen is concreted in now,” she said. “We went back and it was just there, with no buildings around it. We found it weird that it was on the place where she supposedly last walked — although I’m still very sceptical over that myself.”
Amy’s presence has never been far away. The Central Criminal Court heard that photos of Amy were found on the floor of Mahon’s apartment on the night Dean Fitzpatrick was killed.
The same trial heard evidence that Mr Fitzpatrick harboured feelings of guilt regarding his missing sister.
Last year also saw the opening of a small ‘garden of hope’ near Amy’s school in Spain, with Mahon claiming it was “a beautiful place”.
Maybe the family are hoping it can redress the balance of recent years, during which hope appears to have been in short supply.