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Gardaí are tracking the movements of a convicted rapist linked to Deirdre Jacob murder

The man is still alive and living in Dublin.

Image: Garda Press

THE CHIEF SUSPECT in the Deirdre Jacob murder investigation is being tracked by officers since new information about her disappearance emerged, TheJournal.ie has learned.

Officers from the Garda cold case unit yesterday upgraded the case of the Kildare woman, who disappeared in 1998, from a missing persons case to a murder investigation.

Gardaí have a chief suspect in mind – a man who has previously been convicted for rape and assault. He is considered a violent criminal with a high risk of reoffending.

Gardaí had in the past probed suspicions that the man had something to do with Jacob’s death but were unable to prove it. However, TheJournal.ie understands that new information which has come to light has strongly linked him to Jacob’s disappearance.

Cold case gardaí have also, in recent weeks, been liaising with other members in the Dublin region to ascertain the exact location of the suspect.

He had arrived back in the country in recent months to attend a family event. He is understood to be living in north county Dublin. It is understood that gardaí are getting regular updates on his whereabouts.

Gardaí, along with specialised search teams, are also expected to conduct a search of areas around Newbridge, many of which have been affected by the new road network installed in Kildare in the last 20 years.

Where Deirdre lived was around 10km from where the M7 motorway is now situated. One avenue of investigation is that Deirdre was abducted from outside her home and moved, by vehicle, to a place where her remains were buried.

Gardaí believe Deirdre was murdered either on the day of her abduction or very soon after.

However, the roads around Newbridge and Kildare looked very different to what they do now. Gardaí already have information on the precise layout at the time and will use these maps as a guide for all upcoming searches.

The radial area around Newbridge is top of gardaí’s attention. They are looking at definite areas to search in the coming weeks.Nothing is confirmed as yet but it is expected that areas to north west of Newbridge will be searched.

The disappearance and new probe

The 18-year-old was last seen walking near her home at Roseberry in Newbridge, Co Kildare, at around 3pm on 28 July 1998.

Investigators carried out a number of significant enquiries over the last 12 months to establish her whereabouts since her disappearance. New information gathered in that time led gardaí to reexamine the case’s status and, this morning, a murder probe was confirmed.

Chief Superintendent Brian Sutton told TheJournal.ie that the process started 12 months ago.

“We pulled apart the investigation. Detectives from Kildare along with officers in the serious crime review team have been working on this.

“We saw new lines of inquiry that needed to be followed and new information had come to light as well. We sat down around six weeks ago and decided to reclassify this as a murder investigation.

Gardaí have taken more than 2,000 statements and followed over 2,500 different lines of inquiry during the 20-year investigation.

An incident room has now been set up at Kildare Garda Station, and the investigation team are following a number of lines of enquiry

The investigation team can be contacted at Kildare Garda Station on 045 521222 or the Garda Confidential Line 1800 666 111.

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