herald

Thursday 29 September 2016

Is this where Philip is buried? Plot of land to be searched for bunker

The field in the Dublin Mountains where gardai will search for Philip Cairns’ remains Picture: INM
The field in the Dublin Mountains where gardai will search for Philip Cairns’ remains Picture: INM
Missing schoolboy Philip Cairns
Eamon Cooke

This is where gardai are expected to begin digging for the body of missing schoolboy Philip Cairns.

The land in the Dublin Mountains is now at the centre of the garda investigation into the abduction of the Rathfarnham schoolboy.

It's understood that this isolated field was once the site used by paedophile Eamon Cooke, who died aged 79 earlier this month, to transmit a signal for his pirate radio station.

Sources have said that a number of witnesses have told gardai that they saw Cooke using a digger on the property over 30 years ago when he positioned a radio signal repeater.

It has been claimed that the serial child abuser concealed a container 20ft underground on the site, where he also once kept a caravan.

Gardai are preparing to carry out a forensic search of the property as part of their efforts to locate the remains of the missing boy.

Philip disappeared on October 23, 1986, while walking back to Colaiste Eanna, where he had been a first-year student for just over a month. His schoolbag was found six days later in a laneway yards from his home on the Ballyroan Road, in Rathfarnham.

Landowner

Now it has emerged that detectives made a preliminary visit to the site yesterday and have reportedly spoken to the current landowner - who had no connection with Cooke and is not suspected of any involvement with any crime.

A woman in her 40s has recently come forward to tell gardai that she saw the schoolboy being beaten unconscious by Cooke in his radio studio in Inchicore on the day he went missing.

Last month, Cooke confirmed to detectives on his deathbed that he knew Philip Cairns and that the boy had been in his radio studio. It is understood that gardai also independently corroborated aspects of the woman's story.

It's now believed that Cooke may have persuaded another of his young victims to dump the bag in a laneway the following week.

Detectives launched an appeal last night at Tallaght Garda Station after the woman came forward with new information in recent weeks following his death. Detectives would not confirm if Cooke is the main suspect in the disappearance of the 13-year-old Dublin schoolboy - but they do believe people have vital information to solve the horrific case.

Superintendent Peter Duff said the new information resulted in 160 new "lines of inquiry" being opened.

"From our inquiries, I believe there are people who were young at the time who may have information in relation to Philip's schoolbag, and for whatever reason did not come forward," he said.

"I am conscious that due the passage of time and changing circumstances, that these people may now be in a position to assist.

"This may be playing on their minds. I would ask these people to now come forward."

Information

The detective stressed that people with information would be treated "sensitively and discreetly".

"We're anxious to hear from anybody who may have knowledge how the schoolbag came to be in the laneway, who may have seen it being put there or who observed it there at anytime," he said.

"For the sake of Mrs Cairns and her family, who have been suffering for 30 years, it is important we bring this investigation to a conclusion."

Supt Duff said there was DNA found on the schoolbag at the time of the disappearance and that with new technology they can "focus on the DNA more so".

The garda said a large number of people have come forward with information in recent days and are being interviewed on an ongoing basis.

"We are getting to people who have contacted us and assessing whatever they have to offer," he said.

Gardai last night would not be drawn on Cooke's direct involvement with the disappearance and also could not "confirm or deny" if the people gardai would like to come forward were connected to Cooke.

Supt Duff added that searches are "a while away". He maintained that gardai would need to "pinpoint a search area" to conduct searches in the Dublin Mountains.

Detectives also praised the woman, who delayed coming forward with information at the time in fear of Cooke, for contacting gardai with the new information.

"At the time of the incident the person that came forward was a very young child," Supt Duff said.

"It took some time for the person to be able to provide specific information to us. That information was provided earlier this year. We are treating that witness very sensitively.

"I commend her for coming forward, even after the passage of time, to say she had information," he added.

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