Prime suspect in teen's disappearance dies in garda custody

Missing: Ciara Breen
Missing: Ciara Breen

A man who died in Garda custody on Thursday night was arrested twice by gardai investigating the suspected murder of missing teenager Ciara Breen.

Liam Mullen, who was the chief suspect in the teenager's disappearance, died of a suspected overdose in Dundalk garda station, the Herald reports.

The 55-year-old was detained on Thursday at approximately 8.30pm in the town centre on suspicion of drink-driving.

It is understood he swallowed a substance - believed to be drugs - before his arrest.

While in custody in Dundalk garda station, Mr Mullen fell ill at approximately 10pm. An on-call doctor was requested to attend the station to treat him.

Despite efforts by the doctor to resuscitate him, Mr Mullen was pronounced dead a short while later.

An investigation has now been launched by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC).

A post-mortem examination was expected to be carried out last night.

"At this stage GSOC continues to examine matters under S.91 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005," a statement last night said.

Mr Mullen was the chief suspect in the disappearance and suspected murder of Ciara (17), who was reported missing on February 13, 1997. He was arrested as recently as 2015.

A source told the Irish Daily Star there is "little doubt" he was the prime suspect in the teen's disappearance. 

"Gardai had received a lot of information on the case, but Mullen never admitted to anything while under questioning", the source said.

Ciara's mother Bernadette was last night too upset to comment.

Mullen was first arrested over the disappearance in 1999.

He was arrested again in 2015 after gardaí received two letters and took statements from two people who came forward with fresh information. He was later released without charge. He had always maintained his innocence and said he had no relationship with Ciara other than to say hello on the street.

A number of files were sent to the DPP in relation to the case but no charges were ever brought.

Ken Foy, Robin Schiller and Shuki Byrne