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unsolved case Family of missing Lisa Dorrian 'anxiously waiting' for news after new police search in Down

Police divers have been focusing on a number of lakes on the Ards Peninsula close to where the shop assistant was last seen alive.

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Lisa Dorrian has been missing since 2005

Lisa Dorrian has been missing since 2005

Lisa Dorrian has been missing since 2005

The family of Lisa Dorrian — who has been missing, presumed murdered, for 16 years — say they are “anxiously waiting” for news after a new police search began in Co Down last week.

Ms Dorrian was 25 when she disappeared after attending a party at a caravan park in the seaside village of Ballyhalbert when it is believed she was murdered by loyalists and secretly buried.

Police divers have been focusing on a number of lakes on the Ards Peninsula close to where the shop assistant was last seen alive. More searches are planned this week.

“We are waiting by the phone, hoping to hear something and bracing ourselves. We have a long way ahead of us,” said Joanne Dorrian, Lisa’s sister.

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Lisa Dorrian’s sister, Joanne Dorrian, said the family are ‘consumed by the fact she is gone’ (Liam McBurney/PA)

Lisa Dorrian’s sister, Joanne Dorrian, said the family are ‘consumed by the fact she is gone’ (Liam McBurney/PA)

Lisa Dorrian’s sister, Joanne Dorrian, said the family are ‘consumed by the fact she is gone’ (Liam McBurney/PA)


“We don’t know what information the police have been given; all we know is there’s good investigative reasons for them to be there,” she said.

Detectives do not believe Lisa’s murder was pre-planned and say a small number of people “hold the key” to her disappearance on February 28, 2005.

Joanne said she struggles with the reality that her sister “simply vanished” and was never seen again.

“There have never been any answers and so the pain never leaves you,” she said. “Lisa is still your first thought when you wake in the morning. And while we are always striving to find her, things will be different when she is found because it’ll be a realisation that she is gone.”

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A diver in the water at the Clay Pits, Ballyhalbert, in the search for Lisa Dorrian (Liam McBurney/PA)

A diver in the water at the Clay Pits, Ballyhalbert, in the search for Lisa Dorrian (Liam McBurney/PA)

A diver in the water at the Clay Pits, Ballyhalbert, in the search for Lisa Dorrian (Liam McBurney/PA)


Lisa, described by Joanne as a “very funny, fun-loving, family-orientated girl”, would have turned 42 this year and her life “would have been very different now”.

“She just got caught up in the wrong crowd and whatever happened, happened. That’s why I think whoever is responsible for her death needs to remember what she meant to us.”

More than 400 searches have been conducted across Northern Ireland in connection with Lisa’s disappearance.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland is continuing to review parts of the original investigation and previous searches. Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy said the new searches are “an extension of us adopting new thinking around the circumstances of Lisa’s murder”.

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Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy said the search is in a ‘new phase’ (Liam McBurney/PA)

Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy said the search is in a ‘new phase’ (Liam McBurney/PA)

Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy said the search is in a ‘new phase’ (Liam McBurney/PA)


“While this area was previously considered and work conducted to examine it, our investigative thinking and knowledge has developed over time,” he said.

“It is important to the police service and Lisa’s family that we have clarity, and with the development of search techniques and technology, I intend to gain reassurance that the examination of the lakes has been conducted to the necessary extent and to modern day standards.”

He says the police resolve has “not diminished” and reiterated the importance of bringing the Dorrian family the answers “that any grieving family deserves”.

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