Man due in Belfast court charged in connection with disappearance of 14-year-old girl

He is due in court in Belfast on Saturday morning.
Man due in Belfast court charged in connection with disappearance of 14-year-old girl

An activated CRI (Child Rescue Ireland) sign near Palmerstown, Dublin. Countrywide alerts ran for almost 24 hours until the 14-year-old was located safe and well in Belfast. Picture: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

PSNI officers have charged an 18-year-old man on Friday in connection with the disappearance of 14-year-old Svetlana Murphy over four days this week.

The man was arrested by police after he and Svetlana were located in Belfast late on Thursday night.

He is due in court in Belfast on Saturday morning.

It followed almost 24 hours of an emergency Child Rescue Ireland (CRI) Alert, which was issued by gardaí at midnight on Wednesday.

The search ended in relief when PSNI officers found Svetlana “safe and well”. Arrangements were made for her to be reunited with her parents.

The 18-year-old was arrested and taken into custody for questioning. It is understood he is being interviewed in relation to a number of matters.

Svetlana was seen leaving her home on Beach Road, Blackrock, Co Louth at about 4pm on Monday in the company of the man in question, who was driving his metallic-grey Hyundai car, registration 132-D-13518.

The pair were seen in Newry at about 7pm on Monday and the car was spotted in Belfast city centre at about 5.35pm on Wednesday.

It is understood that at the time they were spotted on Thursday night they had left the car and were after getting into a taxi and that when the PSNI approached the vehicle, they ran from the taxi and were located in a nearby park.

Considered an abduction

While the teenagers know each other, the case was considered an abduction as the girl is a juvenile and had been gone since Monday without the permission of her parents and the 18-year-old was an adult.

Gardaí issued a missing person’s appeal for Svetlana early on Tuesday after her father reported her missing on Monday evening.

Information gathered by gardaí on Tuesday and Wednesday led them to have serious concerns for the girl’s health and welfare.

After a detailed assessment by senior gardaí the case met the criteria for a (CRI) Alert, which are issued very rarely and only in the most serious of cases.

There have been seven previous CRI cases since the mechanism was set up in 2012. In all but one case, the child or children were recovered safe.

'Immediate and serious risk'

Certain criteria must be met before a CRI can be issued, including that there is a reasonable belief that the child “has been abducted” and a reasonable belief that there is “an immediate and serious risk to the health or welfare of a child”.

Sources on both sides of the border expressed relief that the search ended in the safe recovery of Svetlana.

“It was stressful enough and more stressful for the child and her family, but it worked out well in the end,” said one source.

The family was described as being “delighted” on the safe return of their child.

Gardaí will be assisting the PSNI in their investigation, with sources saying there is ongoing and good relations between the two agencies.

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