Land searched for Leitrim man missing since 2011
Gardaí now treating disappearance of Pat Heeran as a murder case
Gardaí and Defences Forces personnel began searching land close to the home of a Leitrim man, Pat Heeran. Photograph: Julien Behal/PA Wire
Gardaí and Defences Forces personnel on Thursday began searching land close to the home of a Leitrim man, Pat Heeran (48), missing since 2011.
At a media briefing in Carrick on Shannon today, gardaí confirmed the inquiry into Mr Heeran’s 2011 disappearance was upgraded to a murder investigation last October - five years after he was reported missing.
Mr Heeran’s sisters Sheila McCrann and Dooreen Keegan watched as officers from the 28th Battalion, based at Finner camp, backed up gardaí as they searched open and forested land opposite Mr Heeran’s home.
He lived alone at Cois Easa, a small development in the village of Aughavas near Mohill.
Inspector Ray Mulderring said gardaí were searching for remains, clothing and Mr Herran’s phone, which through technology they know was used in the vicinity of the an’s home after the last known sighting in October 2011.
Mr Heeran was caught on CCTV at Baxter’s supermarket in Mohill, and the items he bought were found in his home.
Insp Mulderring refused to comment on concerns raised in the Dái l about the Garda investigation into Mr Heeran’s disappearance by local Sinn Féin TD Maertin Kenny. “I am not here to comment on what is said in the Dáil,” he said.
Damian Brennan, a former member of Leitrim county’s council and cousin of Mr Heeran, said the family was satisfied with the Garda investigation .
He said he believed Mr Heeran was associating with people who were violent without realising the level of violence they were capable of.
Gardaí said Mr Heeran left his home in circumstances that suggested he “did not plan on leaving for an extended period”.
The television and lights had been left on, and an open can of cider and cigarettes were left on the table. Inspector Mulderring said there was no evidence that he had been forced from the house at gunpoint and no sign of violence there.
Detectives pointed out Mr Heeran had no prior history of going missing and had no recorded history of mental illness.
Speaking about the impact on his family Mr Brennan said their lives had been destroyed as it was their first thought every morning and last thought at night.