- 31 Jul 16
The family of the Mayo woman, who disappeared in December 2000, have called for an inquest into her death...
Members of the family of Sandra Collins, who disappeared without trace in December 2000, have called for an inquest into her death.
The call came today, following the release by the family of newly discovered footage of her being interviewed by Paul Claffey of Mid-West Radio. The footage was shot on the streets of Killala, in Co. Mayo, where a music festival was taking place at the time. Sandra, who was 28 when she disappeared, was from the town.
Her jacket – a distinctive fleece – was found on the pier, but her body was never recovered. Her family have always believed that the jacket was placed on the pier by the person they believe killed her, to make it look like she took her own life.
In 2014, a local man, Martin Early, was charged with her murder. However, the accused was released after Justice Patrick McCarthy instructed that he be acquitted, at the end of the prosecution case. The judge said that there was no evidence that Sandra Collins had died in December 2000 and ruled therefore that the charge of murder should not proceed.
Ms. Collins was pregnant at the time of her disappearance and had been in contact with the British Pregnancy Advisory Service about a termination. The results of a second test, confirming her pregnancy, had been received on the day she disappeared.
In the footage released today and viewable on rte.ie, Sandra is with her younger brother Patrick, who is being interviewed by the leading man at Mid West Radio, Paul Claffey. In an emotional interview on RTÉ news, Patrick said that the footage – which shows a smiling Sandra with her arms around him – was very special.
“It’s brought Sandra back to life for me,” he said, wiping a tear from his eye. "You could tell she loved us and naturally we loved her.”
Gardaí are now preparing a file for the Coroner’s Court and a decision will be taken, whether or not to have a fresh inquest. An inquest would allow anyone with information to give evidence in public.
“It’s more poignant now, “ Sandra’s sister Bridie Conway told RTÉ. “It’s stronger than ever – the need in me and the rest of us, and the O’Gradys – that we get her back and lay her to rest.”
The case, which may well hinge on the fact that she was pregnant at the time, highlights the importance of repealing the 8th Amendment, which forces Irish women to travel of the UK or further field to secure terminations.