The main suspect in the disappearance of schoolboy Philip Cairns lived locally, a retired cold case detective believes.
The 13-year-old was last seen leaving his home in Rathfarnham, South Dublin, on October 23, 1986.
Philip was on his way back to Colaiste Eanna Secondary School after his lunch break and his school bag was found in an alley near his house six days later.
But since then the trail has gone cold and detectives have remained stumped.
Speaking to the Irish Sunday Mirror, former detective Alan Bailey said he believes the person behind Philip’s disappearance knew the area well.
The retired officer added: “It certainly wasn’t a random stranger or random grab off the street.
“I think with the bag being dumped back in the same area it would suggest to me that whoever went back with that bag was comfortable in the area.
“Even with all the Garda activity they were still not afraid of being noticed in the area which would suggest to me they have knowledge of the area and were used to being seen in the area.
“It certainly wasn’t a planned disappearance [by Philip]. There was no push/pull factor which is what you look for in disappearances. There’s no reason to believe that he left of his own free will.
“The dumping of the bag a few days later is significant in so far as it was suggested that whoever was involved was local to the area or knew it very well.”
In June 2014, it emerged twisted paedophile Eamon Cooke was being quizzed over Philip’s disappearance.
A woman had come forward claiming she saw the DJ attack the teen at his radio station in Inchicore.
Cooke was quizzed by officers on his deathbed and Philip’s schoolbag was tested for evil Cooke’s DNA.
Despite there being no DNA evidence, many still believe he had a role to play in his disappearance – including a victim of the sadistic paedophile.
Speaking at the time, she said: “I don’t know whether he did kill Philip Cairns or not but I know he certainly had it in him.”
The Irish Sunday Mirror also exclusively reported in 2014 how the convicted child abuser – jailed for attacks on four young girls – claimed he searched mountains for the missing schoolboy for over a year.
The sicko also said in a statement, apparently prepared by him for civil matters in 2001, that he reported suspicious tyre tracks which he noticed close to land he owned in Stepaside, South Dublin, two days after Philip’s disappearance.
He wrote he had reported the marks to gardai in Rathfarnham at the time but it was never followed up.
Cooke, who in 2007 was convicted of crimes dating back to the 1970s and sentenced to 10 years in prison, was quizzed by officers over the case but died without making any admissions.
In the document, he wrote: “Back in the 80s, I rented a piece of land at Stepaside for one of the radio transmitters and a large number of the staff gave help when concrete arrived on site.
“I was to spend months up and down to Stepaside to try to improve the signal there and most times I would go in an old jeep through Ticknock forest. Two days after the disappearance of a young schoolboy, Philip Kearns [sic], in the area I went up to Stepaside and saw the tracks of an ordinary car through the forest. I could not drive my own car there as there was no push whatever.
“There were no forestry workers in the area so my first thought was the missing boy. On my way home I called into Rathfarnham station to tell them of the car tracks.
“They said they had a lot of reports of the boy being seen and they would follow my report up as well.
“No one ever did and I spent the next year searching most of the
mountainside but found nothing. I still believe there is some connection between the car tracks and the missing boy who was never found.”
Mr Bailey said just because Cooke’s DNA was not found on the bag he can’t be ruled out as a suspect.
He added: “The problem with that bag, and we had it in other cold cases, is that the bag wouldn’t have been handled then the way it would be now.
“We had one particular murder case where a briefcase was stolen and when it was recovered I had hold of it. My DNA showed up on it because at the time as long as you didn’t touch the handle you were alright. That’s all changed. It’s not through any carelessness or anything on our part but it was of the time. You might get fingerprints on a book or a handle of a bag but you might not find a fingerprint on the bag itself.
“The fact there was no DNA to link him would not surprise me.”
But he said despite Cooke being capable of snatching Philip, there is no hard evidence against him.
He added: “From what I knew of him he was bad but there was never anything to link him to it really.” And Mr Bailey said he doesn’t believe there is any truth in the theory a paedophile ring was involved in Philip’s disappearance.
He added: “If it was a paedophile ring, and they got away with it, they weren’t going to settle for the one. If they went out and got a child and they did what they did they weren’t going to settle for that.
“How many children have been snatched since? That is what I would be thinking, it doesn’t smack of a snatch by a paedophile gang because why haven’t they done it again?
“Did an unsuspecting youngster get into a car because he thought someone needed him, for directions?
“If you go back to that time children weren’t as streetwise as they are now. The child back then was a lot more innocent to the child of today.”
Philip’s heartbroken sister Mary revealed last month how her life has stood still since his disappearance 34 years ago.
Speaking on RTE’s Scannal, she said: “If anybody knows anything about what happened to Philip, I will ask you to please, please come forward.
“We don’t know how much time any of us have left.
“We would really like to be able to bring Philip home, give him a burial and somewhere for our mother to go where she knows where he is.”
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* Anyone with information on the disappearance of Philip Cairns
is asked to contact the Garda
Confidential Line on 1800 666111 or any Garda station.
Source: Dublin News