'empty seat' | 

Sister of missing Esra Uyrun speaks of Christmas pain as she appeals for information

Esra was last seen leaving her home in Dublin where she lived with her husband Ozgur and two-year-old son Emin around 7.15am. on February 23, 2011

Berna Fidan, sister of missing Esra Uyrun

Alan SherrySunday World

THE family of missing mother-of-one Esra Uyrun say they don’t celebrate Christmas anymore as they approach the 12th year anniversary of her disappearance.

Esra was last seen leaving her home in Collinstown Grove in Clondalkin, Dublin where she lived with her husband Ozgur and two-year-old son Emin around 7.15am. on February 23, 2011.

Her car - a silver Renault Twingo, registration number '08 D 23067' - was later found in a car park at the bottom of Bray Head in Co Wicklow but CCTV couldn’t determine who was driving the vehicle. Her wallet was found in the trunk of the car.

Esra was from a Turkish family and grew up in London but had moved to Ireland after her husband got a job here. After her disappearance Ozgur and Emin moved back to England to be close to family,

Esra’s sister Berna, who lives in London, has campaigned tirelessly since her sister’s disappearance to find out what happened to her.

Esra Uyrun

She said Christmas is a particularly difficult time of year.

“We don’t celebrate Christmas really anymore. We have a tree up but the only reason we have it up is because of my granddaughter. Since Esra disappeared sometimes the tree went up and sometimes it didn’t go up. The girls would try and make it a Christmas but there’s always an empty seat at the table.”

She said Esra really enjoyed Christmas and would get the entire family in the festive spirit.

“Esra loved Christmas with the lights and the tree and everything and it was just a special time for her. She always used to start before we did with the Christmas cards being sent out early and the tree going up early. It meant so much to her and she made Christmas so much more for us because she enjoyed it so much. It’s just sad now.”

Berna regularly travels to Ireland to try to appeal for information and came over again for National Missing Person’s Day on December 7.

Gardai had no new information for her but they gave her strands of Esra’s hair which she had asked for to put in a locket.

“They gave us a couple of strands of her hair. I wanted it in my locket. I put in on a chain in a little vial tube. I feel like I carry her around.”

With each year that passes the lack of answers becomes more frustrating for Esra’s family.

It will be 12 years in February. I can’t believe 12 years have passed, I just can’t. It’s absolutely crazy.

Esra Uyrun told her husband she’d be home in a few minutes, but never she returned

“We are just hoping someone comes forward. I’m begging anyone who knows anything to come forward. Twelve years is such a long time. I met with families at the National Missing Persons day who have been waiting 15, 20, 30 years. You look around and think am I go to be in this position in another 10 years’ time. That just chokes me up. God give us strength. It is the not knowing. That’s what’s bugging us.”

She said she believes somebody out there has answers to what happened.

“We’ve had nobody come forward. I say it all the time how does nobody know? Somebody knows something. One little lead would mean so much to us. It might take the case in a different direction because we don’t know what to think anymore. Our mind has been through everything – she could have been taken; she could be being kept somewhere; she could be dead somewhere; we just don’t know.

“God forbid, if she has passed away let us take her home and we have a place for her at least. We don’t even know that. it’s the not knowing.”

She said she will never give up seeking answers.

“Because we don’t known we cant stop looking until we find out what happened. I’ll never give up looking.

“I just pray every night that someone is going to come forward and say something. Until that day happens God give me strength.”

Berna said she is tortured by thoughts of what could have happened.

“The brain plays such weird games on you. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and I can’t switch off again. It’s 2am and before I know it it’s 6am and I’m getting ready to go to work and I’ve barely had any sleep.”

Gardai who originally investigated the case told Berna they believed Esra died by suicide given the location of the vehicle.

In a meeting which was filmed for a documentary a detective told Berna the case was no longer being treated as a missing person scenario and was being treated as a body recovery operation.

That detective has long since retired the case has been looked at again by gardai in Clondalkin who are treating it as a missing person case.

Berna has pointed out that the case of Elaine O’Hara had been written off as a suicide before her body was found and it emerged she had been murdered by Graham Dwyer.

She said Esra was in good spirits and was looking forward to her mother coming over to Ireland to visit when she went missing. She had also asked her to bring over Turkish spices from London which weren’t available in Ireland.

Berna also says there is a unusual delay between the time she left the house and first turning up on CCTV.

The Renault Twingo car she was driving was later spotted in Bray, Co. Wicklow, where CCTV showed it nearly colliding with a Skoda Octavia. It was not clear who was driving the car from the CCTV. Berna has reiterated her appeal for the driver of the Octavia to come forward.

After that incident the Renault was driven into Bray Head car park before driving away and then driving back before it was finally parked in a CCTV blindspot.

A set of keys for her car with a photograph of Esra and her son Emin on the keyring was found months after she disappeared in a local chipper in Neilstown. The owner said they were found on the counter before Christmas 2011

When Berna came in to put up posters the following February he recognised Esra from the picture on the keys and gave them to Berna. Gardai confirmed they were keys for the Esra’s car.

Because so much time had passed since they were found there was no longer any CCTV available of who had left them.

Esra had lost a set of keys six months before her disappearance but the keys in the chipper only turned up almost a year after her disappearance.

A documentary on the case is currently in production and will be broadcast on TG4 next year.

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