Gardaí search lake in Laois for missing pregnant woman (30)


GARDAÍ INVESTIGATING the disappearance of Co Laois woman Aoife Phelan have searched a lake close to the spot where she was last seen on Thursday night of last week.

Members of the Garda Water Unit spent yesterday diving in the small man-made body of water in a residential area at Kilminchy, Portlaoise, as part of the wider Garda effort to trace the 30-year-old.

The missing woman had told her family she was four months pregnant. The au pair from Cashel, Ballyronan, about 8km from Portlaoise, was last seen just after 8pm on Thursday when she left a friend’s house at Colliers View in Portlaoise.

While Garda sources say they have no evidence to suggest Ms Phelan had met with foul play, some sources say that possibility has not been ruled out.

Gardaí have already spoken to a number of her friends and family as they try to build up a picture of her character and habits. Some of them were spoken to again yesterday as one week passed without a sighting.

Searches of lands around Portlaoise and in Mountmellick, where it is believed she may have been at some time last Thursday, have yielded nothing.

An examination of Ms Phelan’s phone records, bank account and Facebook account show no activity since last Thursday night.

She lives with a family in Portlaoise for whom she works as an au pair. She often stays with her parents at the weekend. When the family for whom she works realised last Friday morning that she had not slept in their home overnight, they contacted her parents.

Gardaí made a number of appeals through the media over the bank holiday weekend looking for information from the public that might help locate Ms Phelan.

However, with no sightings since last Thursday, the Garda investigation has escalated. Gardaí and Ms Phelan’s family have described her disappearance as out of character and have expressed fears for her safety. They have said she was working happily in the period up to last week and did not seem distressed or depressed.

Ms Phelan is described as being 5ft 7in and slim. She has long blond or sandy hair and blue eyes.

When last seen she was wearing jeans and a knitted jumper, a red sleeveless jacket with a fur-trimmed hood, and black boots.