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It's 11 years since my boy vanished -- I know he was murdered by drug dealer

A heartbroken mum has insisted that her missing son has been murdered as gardai continue to probe his mystery disappearance over 11 years ago.

Stephen Finnegan, a 19-year-old from Baldoyle, north Dublin, went missing on February 2, 2000. His car, a silver Honda Civic was found in Howth four days after he vanished.

Gardai are treating the case as a missing person investigation but Stephen's mum Linda is certain that he has been murdered.



TERROR

In an interview with The Herald, Linda explained that her boy was not depressed when he went missing and was a popular with many friends.

Instead of believing that Stephen may have committed suicide, Linda pointed out that her son was living in terror in the weeks before he died.

Linda explained: "Around six weeks before he was killed, Stephen found drugs belonging to a criminal.

"The man who owned the drugs gave Stephen a terrible beating -- he was punched a number of times in the face and body."

The north Dublin man who allegedly owned the drugs was known to Stephen and in the weeks after the incident, he bombarded the terrified teenager with threatening phone calls.

"The man would not leave him alone. I think he thought that Stephen was going to tell on him to the gardai so he kept on threatening him -- making his life hell. At one stage, he threatened to shoot him," Linda said.

On the day that he vanished without trace, Stephen left his home on Willy Nolan Road in Baldoyle in his Honda Civic car and travelled to Howth to meet some friends.

What happened when he got to Howth has never been established.

But as the hours went by on the fateful February night, Stephen's mother became extremely concerned when he failed to call home.

Mum-of-three Linda recalled: "It was not like Stephen not to call home and I stayed up all that night very worried. The next day I rang his friends and they told me that he had never arrived to meet them the day before.

"I went to the gardai about it then but it was not until Stephen's car was located on February 6 that a full garda investigation started."



cliffs

However despite numerous searches and appeals, no trace has ever been found of the 19-year-old.

Linda believes that he was followed to Howth and shot close to where his car was located and his body then dumped into the Irish Sea from nearby cliffs.

"I believe this because I saw the fear that Stephen had in his final weeks and I know what the person who owned those drugs is capable of," she said.

She is now appealing for anyone who may have any information on Stephen's disappearance to contact gardai.

The case is being investigated by Howth gardai who can be contacted at 01 666 4900.

kfoy@herald.ie