Northern Ireland news

Missing man is third person from Tyrone town feared murdered

The PSNI has launched a murder probe after disappearance of Damien Heagney last December
Connla Young

A missing Co Tyrone man is the third person to have vanished from the Cookstown area who is believed to have been murdered.

Damien Heagney was last seen in the Dromore area of Co Tyrone on December 31.

A murder investigation has now been launched.

Police last night revealed that the 47-year-old was reported missing on July 19 - almost seven months after the last reported sighting of him.

Well known in the Cookstown area, Mr Heagney is understood to originally be from Dunamore, which is outside the town.

On Saturday, police arrested a 50-year-old man on suspicion of murder after a property was searched in the Cookstown area. He released on bail yesterday pending further enquiries.

Detective Chief Inspector Rachel Wilson said that police received a report that Mr Heagney was missing last month.

"Whilst I’m keeping an open mind, I now believe that Damien has sadly been murdered," she said.

 

Mr Heagney is the third man from the Cookstown area to have vanished without a trace.

In 2001 Daron McReynolds went missing and has not been seen since.

From Coagh in Co Tyrone, he is believed to have been involved in the cigarette smuggling and the drugs trade and had international links.

Four years later in June 2006 the case took a sinister turn when police launched a murder investigation and two men were questioned.

In September that year a search of Creggan Bog, between Cookstown and Omagh, failed to locate the missing man's remains.

A spokesman for the PSNI previously said the case "sits within the caseload of Legacy Investigation Branch (LIB) for future review in accordance with its Case Sequencing Model".

Six years later, in February 2007 Gerard Conway also went missing from the Cookstown area.

In August that year police also launched a murder probe "as a result of information received".

A reward of £100,000 was put up by Mr Conway's family in an attempt to find him.

In 2017 it was reported that police were to carry out a search in Moortown in Co Tyrone for the remains of Mr Conway and Mr McReynolds after a tip off but nothing was found.

Police have said they are not linking the disappearance of the men.

A spokeswoman last night added that at this stage police are not linking the Heagney investigation "with any other incident".

Northern Ireland news