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'If she'd taken her own life we'd have found something'

  • Missing Esra’s sister issues fresh plea for information in bid to finally crack 2011 case

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Missing woman Esra Uyrun

Missing woman Esra Uyrun

Caroline Quinn

Missing woman Esra Uyrun

February 23, 2011, seemed like an ordinary Wednesday for the Uyrun family in Clondalkin.

Esra (37) had apparently nipped out to the shops early that morning, telling her husband Ozgur she would be home in a few minutes so he could use the car to go to work.

The car was found later that night in Bray, but Esra hasn't been seen since.

Now, nearly 10 years later, Esra's sister Berna still thinks about the time it would have taken to travel between her sister's home in Clondalkin, and where the car was found in Bray.

The car, a Renault Twingo with the registration 08D23067, was spotted at the Power City roundabout in Clondalkin around a half hour after she is believed to have left her house.

However, it should only have taken her four or five minutes to get there. Gardai trying to piece together the last known movements of mother-of-one Esra have two locations to consider.

First there was her home in Collinstown Grove, Clondalkin, and then the coastal town of Bray on the Dublin and Wicklow border.

What gardai have been told is that at around 7.15am that day, Esra told husband Ozgur that she was just stepping out to the shops for a bit, and would be back soon.

But Esra did not return and at 11pm that night the car was found parked at the seafront in Bray. Her purse, with cash and credit cards, was found locked in the boot.

Questions

CCTV footage would later show the car being driven erratically to the spot where it was parked, and a near collision with another car.

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The area in Bray were the car of missing Esra Uyrun was found. Photo: Caroline Quinn

The area in Bray were the car of missing Esra Uyrun was found. Photo: Caroline Quinn

Caroline Quinn

The area in Bray were the car of missing Esra Uyrun was found. Photo: Caroline Quinn

There were obvious questions for the investigators: Did Esra drive to Bray and take her own life? Did she drive to Bray to make it look like she took her own life, but then vanish to start a new life? Or did something sinister happen to Esra - did a killer or abductor drive the car to Bray to make it look like she took her own life?

The grey Renault Twingo was picked up on CCTV at the Power City roundabout in Clondalkin at around 8am and was seen being driven erratically in Bray at 8.30am.

The car entered and left a car park near the Star Amusements on the seafront and re-entered the car park moments later, having almost collided with a silver Skoda Octavia.

None of the CCTV footage showed the driver, so gardai do not know if it was a man or a woman behind the wheel.

The car was found in the car park that night but it was in a position not covered by CCTV.

Every year, Esra's older sister Berna Fidan comes back to Bray to appeal for help in finding out what happened to her.

Talking about her disappearance now, Berna's main suspicions focus on the time it took for her car to be spotted at the Power City roundabout.

"Esra is supposed to have left the house around 7.15am to go to one of the two local shops that would have been open at the time. But the car was spotted at the Power City roundabout around a half an hour later even though it is just a four or five minute drive away from the house," she said.

"Enquiries at the local shops, where everyone knew Esra, show she did not go to either of them. Did something happen before the roundabout?"

Another mystery to Berna is why Esra's small purse, containing her bank cards and around €60 in cash, was found locked into the boot of the car.

"It's a small purse. It seems odd that she would not put it into the glovebox or one of the storage areas," she said.

Esra's passport was left at home, and there has been no traffic on her bank account. She has vanished without a trace.

"People ask me did Esra take her own life in the sea at Bray, but if she did we would expect her body to be found, or some clothing or footwear, but we have nothing. We searched the entire cliffs area to Greystones and back. We had local volunteers help us, and paragliders looking at coves and inlets," said Berna.

"There were very few people in Bray at that hour of the morning, and Esra was different looking - being from Turkey, she would have stood out.

"People who walk their dogs and exercise there at that hour have said to me that they think they would have noticed her.

Driver

"We have made numerous appeals for the driver of the Skoda Octavia that Esra's car almost collided with to come forward to tell us about it, and see if they can say who was driving the car. It could be a huge help."

She also said that Esra had shown no signs of depression, gave no hints that she planned to take her life or flee in the days before she vanished.

"She was busy organising a visit of our mother and her mother-in-law the next day. She had asked me to bring things from London," said Berna.

"She had been cleaning the house and really looking forward to having them visit."

She also spoke of the pain and frustration of not knowing whether Esra is alive or dead.

"I'd hate to think she has been taken and has been suffering all this time. If she is dead and we could find her then at least we could put her to rest."

One other mystery plays on Berna's mind.

While posting flyers in Bray in the days before the first anniversary of Esra's disappearance, Berna's daughter Ayda went into a local retail business in Neilstown where Esra had been a regular customer.

Ayda handed in a new poster of Esra. After she walked out, a staff member came running out and handed Berna a set of car keys, telling her they must have belonged to Esra.

There were photos on the keyring showing Esra, husband Ozgur and little Emin. The staff member said the bunch of keys were found on a counter in the shop a few months earlier after she had disappeared.

It was explained that no one had identified the Esra photo at the time the keys were found.

It was only weeks later, but by that time there was no CCTV of who left them on the counter.

"I remember I was shaking after being handed the keys. It was so disappointing that nothing came of it," said Berna.

"Esra had lost one set of keys months before she disappeared, but if she had lost them in the shop, surely she would have retraced her steps until she found them.

"Esra and Ozgur shared the last set of keys after that, and I think the keys found in the shop could be the keys used to take the car to Bray."

Berna still travels to Dublin and Bray every year to keep the campaign to find Esra going.

"It will be 10 years next February. Esra loved fashion and art. She was a talented and creative person who could make friends very quickly," she said.

"I go from talking about her in the past to talking about her in the present. It's the not knowing that is the worst part."

Gardai say that the file is still open and being investigated as a missing persons case.

As time passed, Ozgur moved back to London with son Emin, who is now 12.

"Back then he was told mammy went to the shops and got lost. But he's older now and will be asking questions," said Berna. "We know somebody is out there who knows something."

Anyone with any information about this incident is asked to contact Ronanstown Garda Station at 01 666 7700, the Garda Confidential Line 1800 666 111 or any garda station.