Philip Cairns case: Forensic testing being conducted on dumped schoolbag

Missing boy's bag was found in south Dublin lane shortly after his disappearance

Gardaí seeking to trace missing schoolboy Philip Cairns are expected to examine properties owned by convicted sex offender Eamon Cooke in Dublin.

Philip disappeared while walking to school in south Dublin nearly 30 years ago. His bag was found dumped in an alley close to his Rathfarnham home six days later. 

No trace of the boy has ever been found, despite repeated appeals for information. 

However, new lines of inquiry are currently being followed after a member of the public contacted authorities last month.

The woman is believed to be a victim of Cooke, who is now suspected to be responsible for killing the schoolboy.

The convicted paedophile died earlier this month while serving a 10-year sentence for sexually assaulting two girls. Gardaí are understood to have spoken to him about the case before he passed away.

Independent News and Media journalist Paul Williams said gardaí have three separate DNA samples from Philip's bag to analyse:

Earlier, retired detective Alan Bailey told Newstalk Breakfast that examination of fresh DNA evidence will be key to advancing the probe.

"If there’s DNA on the bag to do a comparison with Cooke, it shouldn’t be a problem … The age of the sample shouldn’t make a difference."

The former head of the garda cold case unit said authorities will likely examine what convinced the woman to pass on information before determining whether to charge her with withholding evidence.

“Did she live in fear? Was pressure brought to bear on her? All of those things will be taken into consideration,” he told the programme. 

He added that the development may encourage other victims to come forward: