Military drone used in Garda search for Tina Satchwell in Cork
This is the first time a Defence Forces drone has been used in a Garda operation
A Defence Forces drone is being used to aid the Garda’s search of a wooded area in Co Cork for the remains of missing woman Tina Satchwell.
This is the first time a military drone has been used in a Garda operation.
The Garda is considering using drones more often for surveillance, searches and monitoring emergencies such as major road traffic incidents.
The Defence Forces drones are fixed wing and are normally used on overseas missions, such as in Chad, for surveillance purposes.
One drone has been used in Cork to monitor the 40-acre Mitchel’s Wood site in Castlemartyr and to assist in the planning of the search, which is being conducted in phases.
The Irish Aviation Authority granted the Garda a no-fly zone over the site which prohibits the flying of any civilian aircraft for the duration of the search. It was applied for mainly to prevent drone hobbyists flying over to take video or photographs of the search.
The area is made up of mixed terrain and the aerial view from the Defence Forces drone has helped gardaí determine how the search should expand.
The Garda and Defence Forces team moved into the area last Friday week to start the search, though the operation was delayed for a number of days because of snowy conditions.
Initially the search was to begin earlier but a section of the site was deemed unsafe for a large team.
Garda sources said while a number of items, including clothing, had been found these were not regarded as significant. There was no known link to Ms Satchwell. The search is set to conclude on Friday.
The site was selected for searching after a member of the public came forward and reported seeing suspicious activity in the woods around the time Ms Satchwell went missing 12 months ago.
The person came forward after they saw a public appeal for information in the media late last year.
Ms Satchwell’s husband, Richard Satchwell, has visited the search site. He has said in interviews that he regrets waiting for four days before reporting her as missing.
He said he felt at the time that she may have gone somewhere for a break and to be alone and would soon return.
Ms Satchwell (45) has been missing from the couple’s home on Grattan Street in Youghal since March 20th.
Mr Satchwell returned from a shopping trip to Dungarvan and found his wife had left the house. He waited until March 24th before he contacted gardaí. There have been no confirmed sightings of her since then.