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vanished Siblings of missing Sandra Collins still believe they can find her body two decades later

Murder of soft-hearted sister is still the source of agony

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Sandra Collins.

Sandra Collins.

Martin Early was found not guilty

Martin Early was found not guilty

Nicola Tallant speaking with Bridie Conway and and Patrick Collins, siblings of Sandra Collins.

Nicola Tallant speaking with Bridie Conway and and Patrick Collins, siblings of Sandra Collins.

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Sandra Collins.

The brother and sister of missing Sandra Collins still believe they can find her body with the help of the community where she disappeared.

Bridie Conway and Patrick Collins paint a picture of a tragically vulnerable young woman who lived a lonely life in the village of Killala, Co Mayo, with her elderly aunt Ann O'Grady who she cared for.

They tell a special edition of this week's Crime World podcast how it was that loneliness that drove her to the arms of a person they believe killed her, before hiding her body more than two decades ago.

Exhausted from their battle to get their sister back, they will never give up as long as her body remains missing.

They even say they no longer want her killer locked up - they just want to bury their ­beloved Sandra who was fun-loving and soft-hearted.

Sandra disappeared on the night of December 4, 2000 after buying two bag of chips from a takeaway. Five days later her coat showed up on Killala pier. In the pockets was a packet of sausages and two wet pieces of paper, on which were written the number of a local man Martin Earley and that of an abortion clinic in the UK.

Investigations discovered she had found out she was pregnant earlier that day and Earley later admitted they were having a sexual relationship.

He went on trial for her murder while her body remained missing but a judge ordered a jury to find him not guilty as there was not enough evidence against him. Earley still lives with his wife outside the village.

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Martin Early was found not guilty

Martin Early was found not guilty

Martin Early was found not guilty

In the podcast Bridie describes how her tragic sister had previously given up a child to adoption when she realised she couldn't cope with the baby in her aunt's tiny council home.

"Ann was giving out when the baby was crying and saying things like she didn't sign up for it. The amount of times I asked, begged her to leave Ann and come back to us but she had her manipulated and brainwashed. God knows what she was saying to her," says Bridie.

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And Patrick recalls how precious the baby was to Sandra.

"I got some belongings back and there was tapes, of the Saw Doctors and Take That, CDs and pictures and there was a Bible and stuck in the middle of it was the photograph of her first scan. It was beside a prayer that she had probably said every night, a prayer for expectant mothers to have a healthy baby.

"The scan would have been the May or June of 1998 and I could just picture her. She would have gone to the hospital on her own on the bus and she would have gone in there and all the other mums would have had husbands holding there hands.

"She'd have come home clutching that ­picture and saying that prayer every night. At the same time I found a Get Well card to Ann wishing her a speedy recovery. It was signed 'lots of love always, Sandra'."

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Nicola Tallant speaking with Bridie Conway and and Patrick Collins, siblings of Sandra Collins.

Nicola Tallant speaking with Bridie Conway and and Patrick Collins, siblings of Sandra Collins.

Nicola Tallant speaking with Bridie Conway and and Patrick Collins, siblings of Sandra Collins.

Before her disappearance Bridie says the family saw Sandra once a week when she returned to the family home in Crossmolina on a Sunday evenings, and spoke to her during the week on the phone.

"We didn't know that much about her life and we wouldn't really have even known the people she was palling around with."

Patrick says he believes his sister's lonely existence left her vulnerable to people who could take advantage of her.

Both say that while they would ­always welcome the perpetrator being brought before a court finding Sandra's body is their only priority now.

"It doesn't make a difference whether that person is in Mountjoy jail or on a beach in Florida, whether they are a millionaire or a pauper in a tent as long as we get her back and we can close that chapter."

Anyone with information is asked to contact Ballina Garda Station on 09620560, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800666111 or Crimestoppers on 1800250025.

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