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Still haunted Sister of girl (10) murdered 50 years ago says she was killed by convicted paedo

"I still get the thought coming into my head that it should have been me, I wouldn't say it is guilt exactly, more a deep regret"

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Bernadette 's sisters - Kerrie Aldridge, Anne Guilfoyle, Patricia Connolly,

Bernadette 's sisters - Kerrie Aldridge, Anne Guilfoyle, Patricia Connolly,

Bernadette 's sisters - Kerrie Aldridge, Anne Guilfoyle, Patricia Connolly,

A sixty-three-year old grandmother has revealed how she is still haunted by thoughts of the murder of her ten-year old-sister fifty years ago.

Anne Guilfoyle, from Ballisodare in Sligo, was thirteen when her sister Bernadette was abducted and murdered on her way to a local shop.

Tragically Bernie was only making the trip as she was off school ill, as usually, it was Anne who was sent on the journey.

She was last seen on April 5th 1970 and her body was discovered close to Boyle in County Roscommon, by a woman out walking her dog, on August 17th the same year.

Speaking exclusively to the Sunday World, Anne said: "I still get the thought coming into my head that it should have been me, I wouldn't say it is guilt exactly, more a deep regret.

"But look things happen the way they happen and they can't be undone."

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Bernadette 's sisters - Kerrie Aldridge, Anne Guilfoyle, Patricia Connolly,

Bernadette 's sisters - Kerrie Aldridge, Anne Guilfoyle, Patricia Connolly,

Bernadette 's sisters - Kerrie Aldridge, Anne Guilfoyle, Patricia Connolly,

The family have recently gained closure after Gardai showed them all the evidence they had compiled in the case.

The garda file strongly suggested that a convicted English paedophile, Bob Reynolds, who died in jail a few years ago was the guilty party.

However, there is still a number of unanswered questions.

Anne said: "The guards did the best they could, people have to remember it was a different life time.

"There was no DNA testing, no technology to track phone use, and people could travel between the UK and here without anyone even knowing they had done so.

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"The guards went into great detail with us, they showed us maps, photographs everything.

"Reynolds was a fisherman who came over to fish the lakes around Ballymote where we grew up and used that as cover for his real purpose.

"The hardest thing to be told was that it was all a matter of time, had Bernie been a minute or two earlier or later she'd have avoided him.

"He was convicted over an attack on a fourteen year old girl in Castlebar some years after Bernie died and the day they showed us the evidence.

"A Garda Inspector told me he had visited Reynolds in jail at a point when he was terminally ill, and asked him straight out if he killed Bernie and he wouldn't answer him.

"Myself and my sisters Kerrie and Patricia walked straight from the Garda station to the graveyard that day and said to Bernie, 'Look it's over now we have done as much as we can'.

"As far as we are concerned the investigating guards, who included the former Minister for Justice Sean Doherty, did their very best, certainly if they had found sufficient evidence to charge Reynolds they would have done so.''

Bernie had gone to the shop on her bicycle, and when Anne arrived home from school she was sent to see what was delaying her sibling and ended up discovering the discarded bike.

She recalls: "I got home from school, and Mam had said that Bernie had been gone for ages and was wondering where she was, as she needed to get the dinner ready for my father.

"I remember clearly that she told me Bernie had been sent for spuds and smoked haddock.

"So, I was sent over after her, and I thought why do I have to do this and me only after coming straight from school?

"'I made my way over to Molloys, and on my way, I remember spotting something flashing in the hedge, I kept going, and Mrs Molloy said that Bernie had never arrived.

"I collected the messages and I came back and Trish, Mrs Molloy's daughter came with me.

"As we were going I said I saw something in the ditch and we stopped and it was Bernie's bike, and then I saw Mam's purse which she had given to pay for the stuff thrown on the ground nearby.

"I kind of sensed something was wrong then but sure I was no more than a child myself at the time."

As she grew older Anne started to come to terms with the fact her sister had been murdered.

But one night an innocent question from her a friend really threw her.

"I was maybe nineteen and talking to a mate about the whole thing when she asked me had Bernie been raped and that shocked me, the girl meant no offence with the question but it was just something I hadn't even thought of.

"Thankfully a post-mortem showed she hadn't and concluded she died by strangulation.

"There had to be force used as Bernie might only have been ten but she was streetwise.

"We grew up as kids in Birmingham, quite close to Aston Villa's ground, and always had it drummed into us not to go with or get into a car with strangers.

"And one morning myself and Bernie were late for school when a teacher stopped and offered us a lift, I was prepared to go with them but Bernie stuck to the rules and said no, so I can't see how she would willingly get into his car."

Bernie's death has altered Anne in ways she never imagined possible, including how she dealt with her own children.

"My daughter only said it to me recently that she remembered me sending her to the shops as a kid and me driving down after to make sure she was safe.

"'It just goes to show you what happened Bernie will always be on my mind, I don't blame myself but I'll never forget that I should have been the one going to the shops that day."

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