herald

Thursday 17 August 2017

Fresh hope in 19-year hunt for missing Fiona with new DNA probe

Missing mum Fiona Sinnott with her daughter Emma
Missing mum Fiona Sinnott with her daughter Emma

Advances in forensic science could solve the disappearance nearly 20 years ago of Wexford teenager Fiona Sinnott.

The 19-year-old mother-of-one went missing on February 8, 1998. She was last seen socialising with friends at Butler's pub in Broadway, near Rosslare.

Her disappearance was initially treated as a missing person case. However, it was upgraded to a murder inquiry in 2005.

Gardai are now set to launch a fresh forensic examination of the Rosslare home that Fiona shared with her 11-month-old daughter, Emma, using techniques that can find evidence in a way unheard of 19 years ago.

It is now possible to compare unknown crime stains with profiles on the DNA database that was set up in 2015.

"With recent advances in technology, we are able to locate and generate DNA profiles from stains that were not possible in 1998" said Dr Dorothy Ramsbottom, of Forensic Science Ireland (formerly the Garda Forensic Science Laboratory).

Quarry

The case is set to feature on RTE's Crimecall tonight, and gardai will again appeal for help from the public as they try to piece together Fiona's last known moments.

Garda have carried out an exhaustive investigation, during which more than 400 statements have been taken, the Our Lady's Island Lake in south Co Wexford has been drained and quarry and land searched.

Fiona's mother, Mary, and sister, Diane, will tell Crimecall that Fiona's father died from a "broken heart".

"He died never finding his daughter," said Diane.

"It gets harder as the years go by, knowing that she's still out there.

"It's just not right, so, we're just pleading for anyone with information to come forward, to let us bury her, and let our family be whole again.

"Somebody missing is a very big gap in your life. At times you try not to think about it, you know. It always lingers there, do you know what I mean? Just like as if she vanished into thin air really," said Mary.

Anxious

On the night Fiona disappeared, she and her friends had been socialising in Butler's pub in Broadway from 5pm.

She left the premises at midnight.

Four people were seen at nearby Kisha Cross between midnight and 12.30am that night. Gardai are anxious to trace them.

'My father died of a broken heart. He died never finding his daughter'

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