Detectives investigating the murder of Lisa Dorrian provide an update on search operation

  • 02 April 2019

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Detectives from the PSNI’s Major Investigation Team are conducting a number of searches in the Ballyhalbert area this week including the caravan park where Lisa was last seen alive and the disused airfield behind it. It is a large scale operation and follows months of planning in conjunction with partners from the National Crime Agency.
 
Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy, who is leading the investigation said: "Detectives from the PSNI’s Major Investigation Team are conducting a number of searches in the Ballyhalbert area this week including the caravan park where Lisa was last seen alive and the disused airfield behind it.


It is large scale and follows months of planning in conjunction with partners from the National Crime Agency.

Our determination to bring those who killed Lisa Dorrian to justice is as strong today as it has ever been.

The purpose of the search operation is two-fold: Clearly I want to recover Lisa’s body and allow the Dorrian family to finally put Lisa to rest.  Importantly though, I am also looking for evidence relating to her disappearance.

I know people will be asking why here and why now. We have spent more than 9 months conducting a detailed review of parts of the original investigation. There is no evidence that Lisa’s murder was pre-planned. I am of the view that the deposition of her body was equally unplanned. I have long held the view that the answers to her murder remain local to Ballyhalbert.

More than 400 searches have been conducted across Northern Ireland in connection with Lisa’s disappearance. The fact that those searches have not found her body have caused me to re-focus our investigation on what is most likely to have happened on that Sunday night, the 27th of February 2005.

In conjunction with specialist advisors, we have reviewed previous searches in this area. Nationally, our search thinking has developed, as have the technology and techniques used to conduct them. These searches are not a simply a case of going over old ground – I have not brought a specialist search team here to do that. These searches are deliberately intended to consider areas that have not been previously searched.

As well as searches at this site, I intend to conduct a number of other searches this week. We have received new information, but at this stage, I cannot discuss that any further.

I have publicly stated that the answers to Lisa’s disappearance are held by a very small number of people. Those individuals may feel that they are in an impossible position, because to tell the police what happened on that night, might also incriminate themselves in having with-held that information until now.

I understand those concerns. But as the investigation progresses, I intend to continue closing the net around those individuals and I would appeal to them to contact us now, to tell us what they know. I want to give those people my personal reassurance that their concerns about self-incrimination can be dealt with professionally and sensitively.

Fourteen years have now passed, but our resolve has not diminished. It is important that we bring the Dorrian family the answers that any grieving family deserves.

Anyone with information should call detectives on 101. Or, if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details, they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111.”


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