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The distinctive yellow van parked in a carpark at Kiltimagh, Co Mayo. The Journal

Gardaí are continuing to question man at the centre of country-wide van alert

The dramatic arrest was made after a countrywide Garda alert was sent out to find the van.

GARDAÍ ARE CONTINUING to question a man who they suspect ‘falsely imprisoned’ a woman and drove her 300 kilometres across the country in a distinctive yellow Renault van. 

The man, who is known to gardaí and from the north west of the country, was arrested near Kiltimagh in a carpark yesterday afternoon.

The dramatic arrest was made after a countrywide Garda alert was sent out to urgently find the van and its occupants yesterday afternoon. 

Sources said that gardaí had serious concerns about the safety of the woman due to the previous interactions they had with the man and a 999 call they received. 

It is believed that the man, who is Irish, and the woman, who is understood to be living in the Arklow area of Wicklow but is originally from the UK, knew each other. Gardaí do not believe the incident was random. 

Gardaí were monitoring routes and using ANPR enabled cars to check for the vehicle’s registration after the alert was issued.

ANPR is an automated camera system in some garda patrol cars that automatically registers a vehicle registration that has a warning attached to it.

Every patrol unit in the country was alerted to the warning over the Garda radio system.

Sources said that they were aware that the man may have been making his way back to the west of the country.

The gardaí became involved when a caller contacted them from Arklow in Wicklow raising concerns for the woman, and issued the warning after examining information and cross-referencing the identity of the driver. 

The Journal has learned that the van containing the woman and the man was spotted in a carpark before the man was apprehended. A member of the public had heard the alert and then contacted gardaí.

It is believed the man and woman were sitting in the van in the open air carpark which is near a school. 

At some point the man had left the vehicle and the woman took the opportunity to lock him out of the vehicle.

Plain clothes and uniform gardaí arrived rapidly to the carpark and rescued the woman.   

The man was arrested by gardaí on suspicion of false imprisonment and is detained at a garda station in Mayo, where he is being questioned. The woman was spoken to by gardaí and sources said they are hopeful she will make a formal statement of complaint.

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