Family issue appeal to find missing criminal

The family of a convicted criminal who vanished two weeks ago have made an emotional appeal on his birthday for information on his whereabouts.

Father-of-one Philip O’Toole, who turns 33 today, has not been seen since leaving the house he was sharing with friends in Arklow, Co Wicklow, on Monday January 7.

Originally from Bray, it is understood he fled his home town after being shot in the stomach in a suspected row between rival drug gangs in August 2011. He is well-known to gardaí.

O’Toole, who has a seven-month-old baby boy with his partner Jennifer Kelly, did not co-operate with gardaí during the investigation into the gun attack.

Detectives who carried out a sweep of Bray, after he was reported missing by his family, found his BMW 3-series car parked at Dargle Avenue in the town the night after he disappeared.

The passenger side window was down and documents were strewn around the car but it is not thought the papers are significant to the inquiry or indicated any sign of a struggle.

His father Brendan O’Toole made a plea for anyone who might have seen him or with information on his whereabouts to contact the investigating gardaí.

“We are worried,” he said.

“His birthday is today, and his mother is very upset. We would like him back home.”

Mr O’Toole described his son as a quiet young lad whose hobbies included fishing.

Detectives are looking at CCTV footage and mobile phone records to piece together O’Toole’s movements since he was last seen leaving the house at Meadows Lane, Arklow.

They are also seeking witnesses who may have spotted him since 5pm on January 7 or who may have noticed his blue BMW car – registration 99 D 82211 – parked at Dargle Avenue, on the Lower Dargle Road, close to where roadworks are going on.

Senior investigating officer Detective Inspector Frank Keenaghan said the missing man is a creature of habit and his disappearance is out of character.

O’Toole regularly contacted his family but has not been in touch since he disappeared, and has not used his bank cards.

Detectives are following a number of lines of inquiry.

O’Toole, who formerly lived at Thornhill View in Bray, has a string of convictions.

He was sentenced to six months for possession of cocaine with intent to supply in 2006.

A year later, he was convicted of possession of a double-barreled shotgun and ammunition, and was sentenced to four years imprisonment.

He has also been convicted for trespassing with intent to burgle and possession of stolen goods, as well as a number of other public order offences.

He is described as 5ft 11in, 11 stone, of average build, and with brown hair.

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