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Former detective believes Ciara Breen remains could still be found in bog searched by gardaí

The 17-year-old girl went missing in 1997.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

A RETIRED GARDA detective who was involved in the investigation into the disappearance of Dundalk teenager Ciara Breen has said he still believes her remains could be found in a bog that was searched by gardaí in 2015.

The 17-year-old girl went missing in 1997. The chief suspect in her case, a man named Liam Mullen, was arrested twice by gardaí but was never charged.

Mullen, who had always maintained his innocence, died of a suspected overdose in Dundalk garda station two years ago.

After receiving fresh information in 2015, gardaí searched an area of marshland off the Ardee Road in Dundalk, but the search ended without success. 

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Pat Marry, retired detective inspector, who reviewed the case in 2010, said he is satisfied that they had the right suspect.

“I had enough sightings of him with her on the night down near the bog and he had made comments to people about her being in the bog over the years. So we felt she was in there.”

He said he was told by the forensic anthropologist on the site that someone had dumped rubble on the site and this could damage their chances of finding remains.

“We were really up against it but we kept going all the same. We didn’t find anything but I think we were so close. It doesn’t mean she wasn’t there. It’s a 17 acre site and we only had enough finance to search two acres. We worked out which two acres were the most likely.”

90390289_90390289 Marry (left) at the scene of the search in 2015. Source: Sasko Lazarov

“That’s one that sticks with me because if we had found a bone or even a fingernail we would have had enough to charge him. That’s how close we were to solving it. He’s dead now, but it could still be solved.”

Ciara’s mother Bernadette died last year and Marry said his main motivation had been to bring the teenager’s body back to her family.

“I wanted to relieve the suffering on Bernadette. It just didn’t work out, but as an investigator the most important thing is that you do your best to the end.”

ciara breen Ciara Breen, who went missing in 1997.

The case is just one of a number of high profile investigations Marry was involved in over the course of his career.

In his new book ‘The Making of a Detective’, he looks back at how he worked some of those cases and explains what it takes to secure a conviction.

Another notable case featured in the book is the murder of Rachel O’Reilly by her husband Joe in 2004. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 2007.

Marry said investigators had a challenge in this case as they suspected O’Reilly’s legal team was going to argue media coverage of the case meant he could not get a fair trial.

  “So I had all the newspaper reports analysed and we did out a big spreadsheet with who the reporter was, what dates it was etc.

We analysed them and discovered that 30% of the newspaper reports were generated by Joe O’Reilly himself. So I was able to serve that on the defence side, so I cut him off at the pass.

He said this is the kind of thorough work that goes into investigations into serious crimes, but it is often not seen by the public.

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