Suspect in disappearance of Mary Boyle (6) is released

Convicted sex offender was last night back in jail serving prison term

A man being questioned about the abduction of 6-year-old Mary Boyle, who vanished in 1977, was tonight released from Garda custody without charge.

Garda sources said while the investigation into the presumed murder of the Donegal girl had not progressed to the stage where the suspect might face charges, the probe was continuing with a renewed focus.

The convicted sex offender from Donegal, in his 60s, but with an address in Co Sligo, was returned to his prison cell last night after his detention expired at 8pm.

He was taken into Garda custody at noon on Tuesday under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, which allowed for his detention for up to 24 hours without charge, excluding an overnight suspension of eight hours.


Despite an extensive investigation in 1977 when Mary Boyle vanished and reviews of the case since then, his arrest was the first ever in the case.

Garda sources said he remains the chief suspect, pointing out that he could be arrested again. Currently serving a prison term for historical crimes committed in Donegal. He is due to be released from that sentence early in the New Year.

Gardaí are hopeful the case can be progressed before his release, saying once he is freed he would be free to leave the jurisdiction.

If he left the Republic, he could only be extradited to Ireland to be charged with a criminal offence linked to the crime. The Garda cannot extradite suspects from other jurisdictions for the purposes of questioning them about crimes.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times