Body identified as boy declared missing in 1973

The family of a teenager missing for nearly 40 years has secured some closure over the tragedy after his body was found, it was said today.

Gerard Slattery was only 16 when he disappeared in Omagh, Co Tyrone, in November, 1973.

Now DNA testing has shown that an unidentified body buried in a grave 20 miles away in Strabane is that of the missing youth.

It is understood the family asked police to examine the body, which was that of a person found drowned in the Foyle river in February 1974.

Omagh councillor Paddy McGowan said relatives spent decades trying to find out what had happened to their loved one, before the breakthrough.

Mr McGowan said: "A least now it is a closure, by whatever means, for the family.

"The exact details of what happened might remain a mystery, but it is certainly closure now after a long wait."

He said Gerard's late mother died without knowing what had happened to her son.

"You hear it said of other people, but certainly his mother died of a broken heart," said Mr McGowan.

The independent councillor said the community's thoughts were with the family.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said: "Police have been working with the family of Gerard Slattery to identify remains buried in a grave in Strabane.

"Following numerous inquiries over a number of years, the identification process has now come to an end and police are now moving towards a conclusion of their investigation."

Detective Chief Inspector Derek Scott added: "I would like to commend the patience and resilience of the Slattery family over what has been a very emotive time for them while we conducted our lengthy investigation."

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