herald

Wednesday 7 December 2016

I'm crawling in ditches to find my husband after panic call - pregnant mum

missing dad

Sonya Whelan wife of Joseph Whelan who was last seen in Cavan and is now missing pictured speaking the Herald at their home in Ashbourne, Co Meath.
Sonya Whelan wife of Joseph Whelan who was last seen in Cavan and is now missing pictured speaking the Herald at their home in Ashbourne, Co Meath.
Joseph Whelan who has gone missing
Sonya Whelan wife of Joseph Whelan who was last seen in Cavan and is now missing pictured speaking the Herald at their home in Ashbourne, Co Meath
Darren Monaghan, (friend of Joseph) watches the Irish Underwater Search and Rescue Unit search the river Blackwater in Vrginia, Co Cavan for Joseph Whelan who has been missing since Good Friday

A pregnant mum-of-three has spoken of her terror as she frantically searches for the missing husband she fears has been hurt.

Dubliner Sonya Whelan has been "crawling through ditches" to try to find her husband Joseph (37) who disappeared without a trace on Good Friday after leaving his home in Ashbourne, Co Meath.

A shoe and a jacket belonging to Mr Whelan were discovered on farmland and in a back garden in Cavan in recent days.

Mr Whelan left his home shortly after 11pm on April 4 to return two laptops to his friend in Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan but hasn't been seen since.

Sonya believes that there is little hope left of finding her husband alive and accused gardai of doing little to help find her missing husband.

TRAIPSING

"Something happened to him, and somebody is covering it up," she told the Herald.

"I have been traipsing through farmland, pig styes and bogs since Good Friday with not a guard in sight."

Sonya said that on the night of his disappearance, her husband travelled to Cavan to return a computer he had fixed to a friend.

But before Mr Whelan reached his pal Darren Monaghan's house, he phoned to say he had pulled into a housing estate in nearby Virginia.

"I got a call at about 12.15am to say that he had pulled into the Swiftbrook estate about 10 miles from my home," Mr Monaghan said. "He said he had no tax on the car and had a headlight out and that he had seen a squad car.

"He asked would I come and get him, and I told him I had a few drinks, so I sent my wife. But when she arrived at The Swiftbrook Estate there was no sign of him.

"He was in good spirits and there didn't seem to be anything wrong with him at all, he just didn't want to risk getting caught with the car."

Mr Monaghan then got a phone call from Mr Whelan at approximately 12.48am where he said he was in a field being "chased by five police".

"I asked what he was talking about but the line went dead," Mr Monaghan said.

The last known attempted contact from Mr Whelan came at 1.22am - a missed call to his nine-year-old daughter's phone. He has two other boys aged six- and five-years-old.

Privately-owned CCTV footage obtained by the Herald shows Mr Whelan wandering around the Swiftbrook estate shortly after 12.35am.

The dad, who works at Merchant Quay drug rehab centre in Dublin, wandered in and out of front gardens before disappearing down the side of a house.

The Blanchardstown man was known to gardai but only for minor offences and is not considered a criminal. However sources say that gardai are examining whether Mr Whelan had fallen foul of a criminal or criminals based in Co Cavan.

Sources said that officers were "completely unaware" of the phone call where he claimed he was being chased by gardai through a field. Gardai were yesterday involved in searches close to a lake near Virginia after conducting aerial searches in the locality on Friday and other searches in the area over the weekend.

Mr Whelan's blue 02-registered Volkswagen Passat car was recovered at the Swiftbrook Glen estate in Virginia on Easter Monday.

Mrs Whelan, who is originally from Blanchardstown and is expecting the couple's fourth baby in August, said the ordeal is tearing her apart.

"We have been doing all the searching ourselves," said Mrs Whelan. "I have been out scaling ditches and searching fields, I just don't know what else to do. I have no more tears left to cry. The kids are worried sick.

worried

"It's just not like him. He would always check in on the kids, he adores them."

The worried mum has been aided in her search by family and friends. The field where Mr Whelan's runner was found is close to the river Blackwater.

His jacket was found in the garden of a house in the Swiftbrook estate. The Irish Underwater Search and Rescue Unit were using sonar technology to scan the river last night but uncovered nothing.

Yesterday, Mr Whelan's aunt Ann Whelan told the Herald: "We really want Joseph back. He is a lovely warm-hearted person who is a real family man".

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