Man held on suspicion of murdering Irish woman

Thu, Oct 18, 2012, 01:00

NORTH WALES police said the disappearance of the Offaly-born vet Catherine Gowing, who has not been seen for five days, is “totally out of character”.

A 46-year-old man has been arrested by police on suspicion of her murder. He was not named last night, but he is known to the missing woman, who is from Clonlee, Clareen, near Birr.

Ms Gowing (37) was last seen by friends as she left the veterinary practice where she worked on Clayton Road in Mold, north Wales, at about 7pm on Friday.

“This is totally out of character for Catherine and I fear she may have come to some significant harm. We are increasingly concerned for her whereabouts,” said Det Supt John Hanson.

“[She] failed to meet a weekend appointment and did not turn up for work on Monday morning,” he said.

Ms Gowing is believed to have driven to her home in Cae Isaf, New Brighton, in Flintshire, in a work-supplied Opel Corsa, but police are now searching for her own Irish-registered Renault Clio, registration number 00D 99970.

“We urgently need to trace this vehicle as we strongly believe this will lead us to locating her,” Det Supt Hanson told a press conference yesterday evening.

A forensic team entered her home shortly after lunchtime yesterday.

District police commander Supt Jeremy Vaughan said the location of Ms Gowing was now a “top priority”.

Ms Gowing’s sister Emma, and her brother-in-law Shay, have travelled to Wales and are helping detectives “to build up a better picture” of her friends and habits, Supt Vaughan said.

Last night, Emma Gowing told police officers: “The family are devastated with the news and will try to come to terms with Catherine’s disappearance. She is the light of our family and we can’t imagine that light gone.”

The man arrested is known both to visit New Brighton frequently and to be known to the missing woman, who trained as a vet in Budapest, Hungary.

“[He] has now been arrested on suspicion of her murder and he is currently being questioned at a local police station,” said Det Supt Hanson, though he declined to reveal the information that led to the arrest.

Ms Gowing’s parents – John, a retired farmer in his 80s, and her mother Maureen, a retired primary school teacher – are waiting for news of their daughter at the family home.

Parish priest of Kinnitty Fr Michael O’Meara visited the family yesterday. He spoke of “the sense of heartbreak” felt by her family and how the community was united with the family at this sad time for them. “We are praying that in the terrible news that is emerging from Wales, that they find the strength and the comfort in our support,” he said.

Ms Gowing is 1.78m (5ft 10in) tall and of slim and athletic build, with long, curly, brown hair. Police said they could not be certain of the clothes she was wearing when last seen.

Locals in the area were visibly upset by the news last night. “It’s so sad when something like this happens in such a tight-knit community,” said local councillor Roy Marsh.

Ms Gowing has worked at the DE Evans Vet Surgery at Clayton Road, Mold, for the last year or so, according to local residents, who described her as “a lovely lady”.

Another resident who uses the surgery where Ms Gowing worked added: “lt’s a shock, especially when it’s so close to home. I’ve taken my dogs there. She was a lovely lady.”