Missing Leitrim man 'didn't realise how violent' people he befriended were

Gardaí have said they believe Pat Heeran, who went missing in 2011, died as a result of foul play. / YouTube

THE FAMILY OF a man who went missing in October 2011 have said he had been mixing with “violent” people before his disappearance and they have now given up hope that he will be found alive.

Pat Heeran was last seen on 3 October 2011 at Baxter’s supermarket in Mohill, Co Leitrim.

Gardaí know he spoke to someone on the phone that evening from his home, but he has not been seen or heard from since.

An Garda Síochána An Garda Síochána

Today, as they launched a search of land around his home at Cois Easa, investigating officers said they believe the 48-year-old died as a result of foul play.

Pat was reported missing on 14 October 2011 and the next day gardaí searched his home. They said he left the house in “circumstances which suggest that he did not plan on leaving for an extended period”. His TV and lights were left on and there was an open can of cider and cigarettes on the table in his home.

When gardaí searched Pat Heeran's home in 2011, they found an open can of cider on the table. His television and lights were also on. An Garda Síochána An Garda Síochána

Investigators said they did not find any signs of a struggle and they do not believe Pat left his home under duress as he had locked his front door behind him.

The 48-year-old had no prior history of going missing and was usually in regular contact with his family – in particular his mother Irene, who he had a good relationship with.

“He would never have been absent without making a phonecall to her,” his cousin Damien Brennan told reporters today.

When the news first broke, he said the family hoped at worst that Pat had to “flee, or run away from somebody”.

However, as time went on, it became clear to them “there was something sinister going on”.

“There is no hope at this stage that Pat is anything other than dead and the whole focus of the family right now is to just retrieve his body,” he said.

Brennan described his cousin as a “lively character” but said he sometimes was not “all that sensible”. He also said the 48-year-old bachelor got “involved with people who were maybe not the kind of people he should have been involved with, which again contributed to our concern for his welfare”.

But at the end of the day, whatever Pat was like, he certainly didn’t deserve what happened to him.

Though Brennan said the family does not know who is responsible for his cousin’s murder, they have suspicions about individuals from outside of the community who Pat was “mixing with”.

I would have felt that he didn’t realise how violent these people were and he felt he could befriend them and could be in their company but it seems it wasn’t like that.

dav Doreen Keegan (left) and Sheila McCran (right), sisters of missing man Pat Heeran. Michelle Hennessy / Michelle Hennessy / /

Pat’s mother, he said, is “completely broken hearted and distraught” at the thought of not recovering his body before she dies.

Gardaí said this investigation was upgraded to murder on 17 October 2016. They said the upgrade was undertaken for a number of reasons:

  • The findings of the missing person investigation found Pat made no contact with any member of his family.
  • He did not possess an up-to-date passport and there has been no new application for one. Alerts at ports and airports have not yielded any sightings.
  • Pat was in receipt of social welfare payments which have not been collected since 5 October 2011.
  • There has been no other financial activity recorded for the missing man.
  • Pat was dependent on regular medication and visited his GP on a regular basis, but there are no records to show any activity in the form of health services since he disappeared.
  • All reported sightings of Pat have been followed up by gardaí without success.

In November 2014, three people were arrested and interviewed in connection with the man’s disappearance. All three were released without charge.

A search around the missing man’s house was launched earlier today. Around 30 members of the Defence Forces searched a 500 x 200m area of land adjacent to his bungalow in Aughavas and the search area will be expanded in the coming days.

IMG_20170706_124157 Members of the Defence Forces began their search of land adjacent to the 48-year-old man's home earlier today. Michelle Hennessy / Michelle Hennessy / /

Garda Inspector Ray Mulderrig said they are looking for remains, clothing and in particular the missing man’s phone, which has never been retrieved.

Mulderrig said investigators at this stage “have not formed any particular view” about how the 48-year-old was killed. “We are keeping an open mind on what happened,” he said.

He appealed for anyone with information to contact gardaí. “Somebody knows where Patrick’s body is located,” he told reporters.

Gardaí are asking anyone with information to contact Carrick-on-Shannon Garda Station on 071 9650510, The Garda Confidential Line 1800 666 111 or any garda station.

Earlier: Six years later, gardaí now treating case of missing Leitrim man Pat Heeran as murder

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