Belfast Telegraph

I’m 110% sure body found at river is my missing son

By Brendan McDaid

The father of a young man who vanished in Strabane 10 months ago has said he has no doubt that skeletal remains found at a riverbank are those of his son.

Joe Colhoun has spent every day since searching for his missing boy, David (22), who disappeared after escaping from police custody in Strabane last May.

His family have always believed he had attempted to swim across the River Mourne area to his native Lifford in Co Donegal.

A massive search involving rescue services, diving teams, PSNI and An Garda Siochana officers, local boat owners and volunteers from across Ireland and even the UK has been ongoing along the Finn, Mourne and Foyle Rivers ever since.

Gardai yesterday confirmed that a body was found in Lifford in an area called Islandmore at the River Finn shortly after 9am yesterday morning.

The skeletal remains were found by the driver of a digger who was removing sand from the area.

Gardai have stressed, however, that it is likely to be several days at least before a post mortem examination and DNA analysis can lead to a formal identification.

“It will be down to DNA to establish if the body is male or female or if it is the body of David Colhoun,” said Superintendent Vincent O'Brien.

“Naturally the family would believe that there's nothing to suggest otherwise but to be sure we will have to conduct DNA testing.”

Supt O'Brien said it was too early to speculate on the cause of death

Joe Colhoun, however, said there was absolutely no doubt in his mind that the body was that of his son.

Speaking to the Telegraph at the scene yesterday, he said: “Unfortunately, it is definitely him but at least now we can bring him home and bury him. I am 110% sure, there is no doubt in my mind.

“We have got most of him. He is badly decayed and the hoodie is in bad shape, but it is his hoodie, the same one, blue with the writing on it.

“He was only a mile from where he went in and I have dived this area with 12 divers before and found nothing.”

Mr Colhoun said he was trying to prepare himself for “three or four days of hell” until tests can formally identify David and release his body for burial.

“It has been a very hard 10 months but I said I would get him and at least I have got him,” the grieving father said.

“We have never left this scene, night and day, from the day and hour he went missing. Now we can get him back and bury him with his mother.”


David Colhoun had not been seen since he fled police custody in the early hours of Sunday, May 22, 2011. The 22-year-old Lifford man vanished after he got out of a PSNI car in Strabane and ran off in the direction of the River Mourne. He had been arrested for minor offences. He was last seen at the Bowling Green Street area of Strabane at 4am.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph