A man captured on CCTV walking closely behind Trevor Deely the night he disappeared 23 years ago had provided gardaí with a statement early in the investigation, it has emerged.
The identity of the man, who was captured on grainy CCTV footage on Dublin’s Haddington Road wearing black clothes, has been the source of much speculation in the intervening years. He was considered a valuable lead for cold case detectives who started re-examining Mr Deely’s disappearance in 2016.
However, this week it emerged that advances in CCTV technology have allowed investigators to clean up the footage and finally identify the man.
Gardaí then made contact with the man and were able to comprehensively rule him out of their investigations. They also realised he had first made a statement to gardaí early in the investigation into the disappearance of the 22-year-old on the morning of December 8th, 2000, following a Christmas party.
At an event earlier this week to mark National Missing Persons Day, Mark Deely, brother of Trevor, said gardaí are now “totally happy” there is “nothing sinister” involved in the man’s movements.
“They’re happy now that the person following Trevor down Haddington Road, there is nothing sinister in that he was not following, he was not tracking,” Mr Deely said. “They’re totally happy that there is nothing sinister involved with that.”
The re-examination of the footage also allowed gardaí discount previous suspicions that this man is the same person Mr Deely was seen speaking with outside his office shortly before his disappearance. That person remains unidentified.
The progress in the investigation, which Mark Deely described as “bittersweet”, was made possible due to advancements in software which allows experts to clean up and enhance poor quality CCTV footage.
This work was carried out on behalf of Gardaí by a UK company which “specialises in the forensic examination and enhancement of photographic and video images,” a Garda spokesman said.
The UK company first examined the footage in 2017 as part of a cold case review into Mr Deely’s disappearance, which has become one of the most well-known missing person cases in the country.
The results of this examination prompted gardaí to announce, as part of a fresh appeal for information, that they believed the man following Mr Deely on Haddington was the same person he who spoke to him that night outside Bank of Ireland’s asset management offices on Wilton Terrace, Dublin 2, where Mr Deely worked.
The Garda said a recent fresh review of the footage by the company “with further advances in technology” has made it possible to determine they were different people.
“This person [who was walking behind Mr Deely] has since identified themselves on the CCTV. They had originally made a statement to An Garda Síochána early on in the investigation.”
Mark Deely said this week: “It’s a bittersweet moment as well, because you think you’re going some place – as I said to one guard, I said, ‘God that puts us nearly straight back to square one straight away.’”
He said his family had no theory as to what happened to Trevor. “We’re totally open minded. The truth is, as daft as it might sound, he’s as likely to walk in the door in the morning as he is be found dead. We’ve no information whatsoever.”
For the Deely family, the focus has always been on finding out what happened to Trevor, he said. “It’s all about keeping Trevor’s name out there.