Gardaí suspend Phelan searches
A Garda search for the body of a missing Co Laois woman on a stretch of the River Barrow has been wound down this evening.
The Garda water unit had been searching a stretch of the river below the M7 motorway for Aoife Phelan. The 30-year-old, who was understood to be four months pregnant, disappeared 11 days ago.
A separate search at a house on the Timahoe road some 4km outside Portlaoise was also suspended as light faded over the town. Gardaí also searchied two other properties in the area today.
A 24-year-old man who had been arrested in connection with her disappearance remains in custody at Portlaoise Garda Station. He is being held in Portlaoise Garda station under section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act and will have to be charged or released before his period of detention expires at midnight tonight.
A section of the M7 motorway which had been closed by gardaí as part of the search has now reopened.
It is understood CCTV footage is being scrutinised by gardaí in an attempt to gain a clearer picture of Ms Phelan’s final movements.
On the night she vanished, Ms Phelan left the home where she worked as a nanny at 6.15pm to met a friend by arrangement on the Borris Road a short time later. The pair then went to a house at Colliers View in Portlaoise.
Although there were a number of sightings of her as she left Colliers View at 8.10pm on Thursday, October 25th, there has been no trace of her since.
Ms Phelan worked as a live-in nanny for a married couple with a young daughter in Portlaoise. They grew concerned and alerted her family on Friday morning when she was not in her room.
In the immediate aftermath of her disappearance, Aoife’s friends and family began using social networks such as Twitter and Facebook to appeal for her return. Posters were also erected around Laois.
Betty Phelan always maintained her daughter’s disappearance was totally out of character. Her family were joined by hundreds of concerned friends and neighbours during a search last Sunday. They marked a week since her last sighting on last Thursday, when they were joined by hundreds of friends, neighbours and supporters for candlelit vigil at Colliers View in Portlaoise.
Gardaí have conducted searches in Portlaoise and Mountmellick and scoured phone and bank records. A Garda sub aqua unit also carried out a search of a lake at Kilminchy in Portlaoise, not far from where Ms Phelan disappeared.