Belfast Telegraph

Devastated family hope to bring tragic Dean's body home

By Leona O'Neill

The uncle of Londonderry teenager Dean Millar says his family can now "bring him home" after police confirmed that the body found in the River Foyle on Tuesday is that of his nephew.

The 18-year-old from Creggan was last seen in the Brandywell area of the city late on Saturday March 11 and he is believed to have entered the river close to Craigavon Bridge in the early hours of Sunday March 12.

His body was recovered by a farmer in Magheramason on the shore near his land at around 8pm on Tuesday night.

The farmer contacted the police and his body was brought back to Foyle Search and Rescue Headquarters.

Dean's family, who have spent the last five weeks searching along the River Foyle for him, are now preparing to lay the young man to rest.

His uncle Paddy said Dean's mother Deirdre, his father Patrick and his sisters Shannon and Kelsey are "exhausted" and "devastated" but relieved to have Dean's body home for burial.

"We never gave up on finding Dean," said Paddy.

"We used to say to each other before the search that today will be the day we get him home. Well Tuesday was the day.

"Hopefully now when we get his body home it will start putting closure on this for his mum, dad and sisters and they can start to grieve. Everyone is absolutely exhausted. It's such a relief to get him home but everyone has hit their brick wall.

"It has been a long five and a half weeks of long days, very early mornings and late nights out searching for Dean. We hope to be able to lay him to rest on Monday or Tuesday."

Creggan Parish Priest Father Joseph Gormley said the family's courage has been inspirational. Father Gormley will host Dean's funeral at St Mary's Church in Creggan early next week.

"I am totally inspired by Deirdre and Patrick's dignity," he said.

"Their patience and courage over the last five or six weeks has been remarkable.

"They have been down at the water every single day, putting on their hi-vis jackets to walk along the Foyle looking for their son. It would bring tears to a stone.

"But they didn't give up, they kept on going. I know they are very grateful to everyone who helped them to recover Dean's body."

Searches were carried out daily in an attempt to locate Dean since he went missing five weeks ago.

His mother, father, sisters, grandmother and grandfather alongside his uncle Paddy mounted daily and nightly searches along the river aided by search and rescue teams from all over Northern Ireland as well as members of the public.

The family of tragic Jack Glenn, the 23-year-old man whose body was recovered from the River Foyle at the end of last month, also helped in the search for Dean.

Jack had been seen entering the river on February 2, and a huge search operation was mounted for him over the subsequent weeks. It involved thousands of volunteers from his home city, the rest of Northern Ireland and from across the border.

If you or someone you know is in distress or despair, you can call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000. This is a confidential service, where trained counsellors will listen and help immediately on the phone and follow up with other support if necessary. The helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also access the Lifeline website at www.lifelinehelpline.info

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