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Philip Cairns: 35 years after schoolboy's disappearance, Gardaí still hope to solve cold case

Gardaí have launched a fresh appeal for information on the 35th anniversary of the disappearance...
Newsroom
Newsroom

09.18 23 Oct 2021


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Philip Cairns: 35 years after...

Philip Cairns: 35 years after schoolboy's disappearance, Gardaí still hope to solve cold case

Newsroom
Newsroom

09.18 23 Oct 2021


Share this article


Gardaí have launched a fresh appeal for information on the 35th anniversary of the disappearance of Philip Cairns. 

The 13 year old pupil at Coláiste Éanna in Rathfarnham, Dublin, was walking home on 23 October 1986 when he went missing. 

Alan Bailey, a former head of the Garda cold case unit, reviewed the case in the early 2000s and says it is is one of the most “strange” cases he encountered at the unit: 

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“At no stage were we ever able to recover the body or to find out who killed him. It is the most strange and fascinating case in many ways. 

“The fact that a young school boy going home from school at lunchtime for his luncheon, just disappearing off the face of the earth. 

“It’s a frightening disappearance in many ways also. And one I think that affected all of his friends and schoolmates deeply.” 

Philip was described as being 5ft2 with short black hair at the time. He was wearing his school uniform, which consisted of a grey jacket, a grey shirt, grey trousers and a school jumper. 

School bag

Six days after the disappearance, Philip’s school bag was found with a number of books missing in it. Gardaí believe the bag could be key to solving the crime. 

“Whoever [took] him was both very familiar with the area and felt very comfortable in the area. Which would suggest, for instance, if he was stopped by Gardaí, ‘What are you doing here?’ He’d have a perfectly reasonable excuse for being there,” Mr Bailey told Newstalk

“That bag and the books may still hold some trace and with all the advances in DNA over the years, it’s something that maybe should be considered to have it re-examined again.” 

Anyone with information, no matter how small, is being urged to contact their local Garda station or they can telephone the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111.

Main image: Philip Cairns


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