The Disappearance of Trevor Deely

Provisional Case Analysis

Zak Martin

In response to the renewed appeal for help in the search for missing Trevor Deely following the release of previously unseen CCTV footage showing a man speaking to Trevor outside his workplace shortly before he vanished.

Although I have lived in Spain since a year or two after Trevor Deely went missing, I have followed the case with interest over the years. I lived just a few minutes walk from the bank where he worked, in the city end of Ballsbridge, and I would have passed that building at least once or twice every day, in addition to jogging on the track beside that stretch of canal fairy regularly, so I am very familiar with the area as it was at the time Trevor disappeared.

As Ireland's only profiler at the time, I was actually a bit surprised not to have been asked to help in the case, particularly as I had previously helped the Irish police to solve several other murder and missing persons cases. In fact this was the only case of its kind in which I wasn't asked to help by either the police or the family of the missing person.

I approach cases of this kind on two levels, or from two directions. One is intuitive. The other a combination of psychology and logical deduction. Anyone who's interested in my methodology can find out more information by going here.

I am not going to give my intuitive impressions on what happened to Trevor Deely here. I do have a very definite opinion which I formed on the day his disappearance was reported in the media, but I'm not going to discuss that here because I have no evidence to support it, and this is not my case. My normal procedure is to visit the scene of the crime or disappearance, handle evidence, speak to witnesses and so on, before reaching or announcing my final conclusions.

In this case I am a thousand miles away, and I have only news reports and edited CCTV footage to work on, therefore I am going to limit this brief analysis to a logical and psychological examination of the facts that are available to me, and in particular the "new" video footage. My tentative conclusions, I will say, are consistent with my intuition.

Before gettting into it, I want to make two points. First, I don't claim to be infallible. It's quite possible that there are factors surrounding this case that neither the police or anyone connected with Trevor Deely knows about, which, if they were known, would put a completely different complexion on the mystery of his disappearance. This is true of every case. The opinions I'm expressing below are based on the known facts of the case. I'm also assuming that the reader is familiar with these facts (a full account of Trevor Deely's disappearance can be found here).

Second, I have to say that I consider the Garda handling of this case to have been, shall we say, less than competent. The fact that they held back CCTV footage for 17 years is, in my opinion, scandalous. And I don't believe for one minute that the images on these videos only became discernible after they were enhanced using a technique that only became available recently. These were videos made on security cameras on the walls of a bank, and would have been regularly checked to make sure they were working and that the image quality was of an acceptable standard. These images, however grainy, ought to have been shown to the public in the days and weeks after Trevor Deely disappeared, with an appeal to the people who appear in them to come forward and identify themselves. This is also true of the CCTV footage of Trevor passing the bank on Haddington Road. The footage of Trevor was shown, but why wasn't the rest of that footage - which showed a number of separate people walking just behind him - also shown? The police released a clip showing a man apparently following Trevor (with the suggestion that this was the same man caught on CCTV outside his workplace), but there were several other people walking behind this man, and these people were in a position to provide crucial information to the investigation, and yet no effort was made to identify them. Even now, the police are only releasing edited video footage. I find this reluctance or failure to release the full, unedited videos very strange.

I have watched several videos and TV programmes in which various experts and alleged experts attempted to throw light on Trevor Deely's disappearance, including the Donal Macintyre programme "Unsolved - The Disappearance of Trevor Deely" - which I'm not even going to bother to critique in any detail because I wouldn't know where to begin. Suffice to say that it was a shabby excuse for investigative journalism. Macintyre's "investigation" into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann was also farcical, which leads me to conclude that his "team of experts" either consists of incompetent amateurs with zero critical thinking and detection skills, or it doesn't exist at all, except in Macintyre's imagination.

The analysis now being cited on many websites and in the media is that presented by US-based researcher/investigator, Leroy Blevins Sr., which you can watch here. This is a decent and honest effort, but Blevins Sr. is hampered somewhat by his lack of local knowledge. He has also apparently been given incorrect information. For example, he is under the impression that Trevor headed for his apartment via the shortest route, when in fact he deviated from the direct route and instead took a route that would have taken him miles out of his way. In fact I consider this - Trevor's decision to turn left into Haddington Road, instead of continuing straight down Baggot Street - to be the single most significant clue in this case. So let's start there.

The Longest Route

Every scenario that has been proposed has been predicated on the assumption that Trevor was heading straight home that night. And, given that it was 4am on an exceptionally wet and windy night, and Trevor had had a long and hectic day, it is reasonable to assume that he would have been eager to get home as quickly as possible to dry off and get a few hours sleep before he had to get up and leave again for work at 7 or 8am. He wasn't going to get much sleep, even if he had taken the shortest route hiome. But instead of walking down Baggot Street towards Ballsbridge - the direct route to the road his apartment was on - he crossed the street at Baggot Street bridge and turned left into Haddington Road. Why? It is possible to get to Serpentine Avenue (where he lived) by going down Haddington Road and turning right at either Northumberland Road or, further still, Shelbourne Road, but in both cases this would have brought him back to the road he had originally been on. Walking to his apartment via Haddington Road would have meant taking a lengthy and unnecessary detour, adding at least 20-30 minutes to his journey.

If he had kept going straight along Haddington Road - passing both Northumberland Road and Shelbourne Road - the only route left to him would have been Tritonville Road, near Irishtown. This would have brought him - by an extremely long and circuitous route - to Serpentine Avenue from the opposite direction.

Now, we know that Trevor was either slightly or more than slightly inebriated. We can see in the Haddington Road video that he is unsteady on his feet. So it is possible, as some have suggested, that he accidentally went the wrong way. He wasn't from Dublin, and presumably he would have made the journey home by car, bus, taxi or whatever on previous occasions. It is unlikely that he had ever had to walk home before that night. The only reason he - along with thousands of others - ended up walking home that night was because there was a taxi strike.

And yet, a person who gets lost will usually keep to the road they're on, especially if it's a brightly lit main road. It would be very unusual for someone who had lost their way to turn off a main road into a quieter, less well illuminated street. Not impossible, but very unlikely. What we can say for sure is that if Trevor Deely knowingly and intentionally turned that corner - and I believe he did - then he had no intention of going directly back to his apartment. In my opinion he detoured into the Haddington Road area for a particular reason...

The "Man in Black"

In the recently released footage from the CCTV at Trevor's workplace, we see a man dressed in dark clothing hanging around outside the gate. In his analysis, Leroy Blevins Sr. suggests that this man was waiting for Trevor to arrive. He points to the fact that the man receives a call on his mobile phone just seconds before Trevor appears, and he suggests that this was a call tipping off the "man in black" that Trevor was on his way. He speculates that this man in black was working with other people as part of some larger operation (presumably to rob the bank). He further suggests that the man remained at the gate while Trevor entered the building in order to get a good look at him so that he would be able to recognise him later to follow and attack or abduct him. He also theorizes that Trevor had an urgent reason to call to his workplace and check his email, otherwise why not wait a few hours and check it when he arrived for work later that morning? He concludes that there was some important information in Trevor's email which he had been notified about by phone, and that this had some crucial bearing on his subsequent disappearance.

I can understand how Blevins Sr. reached these conclusions, but they raise as many questions as they answer.

The man in the video, waiting at the gate, certainly appears to be acting suspiciously. What possible reason could he have had for being there? It has been suggested that this was the same man who was captured on CCTV walking closely behind Trevor on Haddington Road - in other words that the man followed Trevor from the bank. I would question this for a number of reasons.

First of all, it doesn't look like the same man. The build appears to be different; although it is difficult to be certain of this. However, the video footage is potentially (and deliberately?) misleading. By cropping it to show only Trevor followed by an unidentified man, the impression is given that these were the only two people on the street at the time, and that this man must have been following Trevor. The video is also speeded up to make it appear as if the man is walking right behind Trevor, when in fact there is 30 seconds between them. If you make a video clip showing any two people walking along a street, it's going to look as if one is following the other. It's certainly possible that the man behind Trevor was following him; but there is no particular reason to believe that he was. There were other people on that street that night. Normally there wouldn't have been much foot traffic on Haddington road at 4am, especially on a wet and windy night, but on this particular night there was a taxi strike, so that many more people than usual would have been walking home after a night out celebrating in the run-up to Christmas.

My other reason for questioning this theory is simply that it doesn't make sense. It would mean that Trevor was followed on foot from his workplace to Haddington road. For what reason? There are only two possible reasons:

1/ The person following Trevor intended to attack or confront him (for whatever reason).

2/ The person following Trevor was intent on abducting him.

But if anyone had intended to attack or abduct Trevor, why didn't they do it on the dark and usually deserted tree-lined route along the canal, between the bank and Baggot Street bridge. It makes no sense that someone would wait until he had reached a busier, more brightly-lit area before attacking him. No attacker follows a person for a long distance before carrying out their attack, unless they are waiting for their victim to enter a deserted, dimly-lit area. In Trevor Deely's case, that area was the stretch of canal BEFORE he came out onto Baggot Street bridge.

There are a couple of possibilities. For example, it may have been the stalker's intention to follow Trevor Deely to his home. Or he may have been in contact with an accomplice, or accomplices, by phone, and was tracking Trevor until they arrived. But this is in the realms of pure speculation.

Incidentally, there is a CCTV mast on the north side of Leeson Street bridge (see photo below). This mast was installed in 1998-99 (I remember this because several local residents objected to its installation, on the grounds that it was an invasion of their privacy). It would have been operational at the time of Trevor's disappearance, and would have recorded his arrival at the bank, as well as the arrival of the "man in black". Was this footage ever examined? I could find no mention of it in any of the media reports.

CCTV camera tower directly facing Trevor Deely's workplace.

Let's take a look at this whole abduction business. People are abducted for one of only three reasons (excluding bizarre theories involving aliens and parralel dimensions). Women, girls and children are abducted by sexual predators. Although abductions of this kind attract media coverage, they are actually very rare.

The second most common motive for abduction is to demand a ransom. Kidnappers invariably abduct children or women. The only instance I know of in which a man was kidnapped was the case involving the wealthy Dutch businessman, Tieda Herrema, who was kidnapped in 1975 by the IRA. Herrema's kidnappers demanded the release of three IRA prisoners in exchange for his release. As far as I'm aware, Trevor Deely's family are not multi-millionaires, nor did they ever receive a ransom demand. Therefore I think we can safely rule out the possibility that Trevor was kidnapped with the intention of holding him for ransom.

The third motive for abduction is to force the abductee - or a member of their family - to disclose valuable information of some kind - for example, the security code to a building, or the combination of a safe. Since Trevor worked for a bank, and would presumably have had access to information that would have been useful to criminals, we have to give more serious attention to this possibility. The "man in black" behaving furtively outside the gates of the bank would seem to give more credence to this idea. But let's look at the facts.

First, as I pointed out above, if anyone had wanted to abduct Trevor, they'd almost certainly have done it in the eleven minutes it took him to walk the length of the poorly-lit, tree-lined street between Leeson Street bridge to Baggot Street bridge (the fact that it took him eleven minutes to complete a six minute walk suggests that he either sat down for several minutes at the canal bank, or walked around the park facing the canal). Alternatively - and this is what happens in most abduction cases of the kind we're discussing - his abductors would have waited for him at his apartment, since they couldn't have predicted what his movements would be that night. No one could have known, for example, that he would drop in to his workplace to pick up an umbrella at 3.30am. What if it had stopped raining by then? What if he'd been offered a lift home by someone he met at the club in Leeson Street? Or if he'd been invited to a party? His movements that night were unpredictable. If there had been some kind of master plan to abduct Trevor and force him to divulge sensitive information, it could not have relied on Trevor turning up at the bank at 3.30 in the morning.

Furthermore, if Trevor had been followed with the aim of forcing him into a car, why would his abductors follow him on foot? It would have been easy to force him into a car or a van without attracting any attention. Why wait until he's on a busy residential road, with passing cars, pedestrians, people looking out their windows etc., who would see what was going on and call the police?

CONCLUSION: Trevor Deely was not followed when he left his workplace on the night he disappeared. He had no intention of going home (he would have to have left his apartment to go to work a couple of hours after he arrived home). The likelihood, therefore, is that if he was attacked he encountered his attackers in the Haddington Road area. The most important clue to his disappearance is the fact that he turned left instead of continuing down Baggot Street.

Another suggestion that has been made is that Trevor was attacked and mugged on some quiet stretch of road. This is a more mundane, but to some extent a more realistic hypothesis. People get attacked and robbed all the time. But in that case what happened to his body? Muggers don't wait around to hide the bodies of their victims. Certainly not on a public street. They take what they can and they get the hell out of there as quickly as possible. (Hit and run drivers also don't hang around to hide bodies, incidentally.) And while muggings are fairly commonplace, it's rare for muggers to actually kill their victim. And it's even rarer for them to carry out an attack in public without being seen by witnesses.

If Trevor wasn't followed, then his disappearance is less likely to be connected with the man captured on video lurking at the gate of the bank. As I mentioned above, it has been suggested by Leroy Blevins Sr. and others that the stranger at the gate was waiting for Trevor to arrive, and that he was alerted to Trevor's arrival by a phone call. The man is actually seen speaking on his phone shortly before Trevor arrives at the gate. But I don't believe the stranger was waiting for him. Why? Simply because if that had been the case he would have ducked out of sight until Trevor had entered the building. Psychologically, this is what a person would do if they were surreptituously observing the movements of another person. They would instinctively conceal their own presence. Trevor's encounter with the man at the gate had to have been pure chance.

It has been suggested that the man wanted to get a good look at Trevor in order to be able to follow him, or point him out from a car. In my opinion this is illogical. If Trevor was identified to the stranger by someone who knew him by sight, why not simply identify him when he came back out? And if the stranger was going to point out Trevor from a car, where was the car? And if the person who rang the stranger to identify Trevor to him wasn't going to be in that car (if he was, he'd be able to identify Trevor himself: there'd be no need for the stranger to get a close look at Trevor), then we're assuming the existence of a third person, or a third group of people. Lex parsimoniae - Entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity. If these hypothesized people had a car, why not simply sit in it and wait for Trevor to arrive, then wait for him to leave the building and attack or abduct him on that dark, quiet, deserted road? Why leave their "man in black" to stand in the rain outside the bank, where his presence was liable to attract attention and suspicion? It doesn't make sense.

The man was certainly behaving furtively, but that doesn't mean whatever he was up to had any bearing on Trevor Deely's disappearance. So who or what was he, and why was he hanging around outside the bank? If the video footage of him had been released immediately, it is quite possible that the man himself, or someone who knew who he was, might have come forward. But for some mysterious reason, the existence of the video was kept secret.

Bearing in mind that the weather that night was atrocious, with persistent rain and gale force winds, and given that it was 3.30 in the morning, the unidentified man had to have had some very compelling reason for being there. The wall of the bank didn't offer much in the way of shelter from the elements (there were other buildings nearby which offered better shelter). So if he wasn't there to get out of the rain, why was he there?

On the CCTV footage he appears to be speaking on a mobile phone. This rules him out as a vagrant. While it isn't unusual for homeless people to have a mobile phone these days, back in 2000 mobile phones were still relatively new, and they were expensive to buy, have connected and operate. They were owned mainly by young professionals, especially by people working in information technology. So we can assume that the stranger at the gate wasn't a destitute person. He was standing outside a building that was bristling with security. Who would loiter outside a bank that had high gates, motion-sensitive floodlights and CCTV cameras mounted on the wall? This was a risky place for any person with ill intent to hang around. For all he knew, the people inside the building had seen him on CCTV, and had already called the police. Harcourt Terrace police station was a short distance away, and police cars regularly patrolled that stretch of road. If a police car had pulled up, what explanation would our stranger have given for being where he was?

I suspect that he had a good excuse for being there, and that he had some connection with the immediate area. The suggestion being made is that he was a bank robber, or a lookout for a criminal gang. And he's hanging around outside the bank for at least half an hour, visible on the building's security cameras? Waiting for the police to arrive and ask him what he's doing there? That seems very unlikely. If he were involved in a robbery, or a kidnapping or anything of that nature, he'd be sitting in a car parked around the corner, waiting for the signal to spring into action. Robberies and kidnappings - criminal raids of any kind - are carried out quickly. Bank robbers generally don't loiter conspicuously outside the bank they're planning to rob, exposing themselves to the risk of being reported to the police or captured on CCTV.

What all this suggests to me is that our man in black felt safe standing there. He had a reason, or a plausible excuse, for being where he was. One possibility is that he was a watchman or security guard. He appears to be tall, and he's dressed as you'd expect a "casual" security guard to be dressed (cap, leather jacket, cell phone/radio).

I recall that roadworks were being carried out in that area around that time, and for a while there were prefabricated huts erected on the stretch of road facing that building. There would have been a watchman or security guard on the site. Which makes me wonder whether the "man in black" was actually a security guard, or was in some way connected with those roadworks. He could also have been posing as a security guard. In any event, he had a reason for being at that specific location.

With regard to Blevins Sr's suggestion that Trevor may have been lured to his workplace by a phone call letting him know he had received an important email, I would have to disagree with him about that. As I understand it, Trevor hadn't planned on visiting his workplace that night. He ended up, after a night out celebrating, at Buck Whaley's nightclub, which was close to the bank. He would have had to pass the building on his way home, so - given that the weather was foul that night - it would have been natural for him to drop in and have a coffee with his colleagues and pick up an umbrella before continuing on his way. There is no reason to believe that anyone knew he was going to be there, or that he was lured there. I don't believe - and I don't think there's any evidence to support the idea - that his disappearance had anything to do with with some urgent or important email he received that night, or that people were waiting for him to arrive at his workplace, or that he was followed or abducted by these people.

As the title of this article says, this is a provisional, "work in progress" analysis of the Trevor Deely case. I may expand it to deal with other aspects of the case, if there is enough interest. Please feel free to comment.

28 April 2017

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