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New appeal in hunt for missing body of murdered Sunderland soldier Robert Nairac

Late Sunderland soldier Captain Robert Nairac.
Late Sunderland soldier Captain Robert Nairac.
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The man leading the hunt for the body of a murdered Sunderland soldier has made a renewed plea for help to find his missing remains.

Geoff Knupfer was speaking on the 41st anniversary of Captain Robert Nairac’s death at the hands of the IRA.

Lead investigator Geoff Knupfer.

Lead investigator Geoff Knupfer.

Captain Nairac, 28, who worked in military intelligence, was kidnapped from a pro-Catholic pub in Northern Ireland on May 14, 1977, and taken over the border to the Republic of Ireland where he was shot in the early hours of the following morning.

Six people were later convicted of their part in his murder although none disclosed what happened to his body.

Despite widespread rumours that it was fed to an industrial mincer, Mr Knupfer, the lead investigator for the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains (ICLVR), believes the Grenadier Guardsman is still buried in remote County Louth countryside close to where he was murdered.

Last year’s 40th anniversary prompted new appeals from investigators and friends alike for new clues.

While Mr Knupfer said people did come forward with information, the ICLVR still needs the “last piece of the jigsaw” before launching any digging operation.

He said: “People have come forward with information and advice and we are making progress slowly.

“But we are not in a position yet to begin digging and still need more information about where he may be buried before we can start.”

While Ulster’s Troubles may have officially ended 20 years ago, among the barriers the ICLVR has faced is speculation that Captain Nairac worked for the SAS undercover regiment and was the mastermind behind murders of Catholics carried out by Protestant terrorists.

Mr Knupfer said: “We have looked closely at his career and was in England when four of the five incidents he is said to have been involved in took place. For the fifth, he was in a completely different part of Ireland.”

As to why Captain Nairac was in the Three Steps pub, in Dromintee, South Armagh, on the night of his abduction, where he allegedly sang pro-Republican songs with regulars, Mr Knupfer said: “I believe he was employed as an intelligence officer and liaison between the police and military.

“It seems he was there to see what was going on. But it was a high risk strategy to undertake without any support.”

Mr Knupfer added: “Behind the scenes there are things going on that we cannot discuss.

“But we still need that last piece of the jigsaw so that we can find his body and allow his family to give him the burial that every family would want a relative to have.”

The ICLVR, which cannot by law pass information on to other authorities, can be contacted in confidence on 00800 55585500 or via email at Secretary@iclvr.ie.

Further details are available on its website here.

Also read: Sunderland soldier Robert Nairac's death still attracts conflicting claims more than 40 years on

Timeline: Robert Nairac's life, death and the ongoing search for his body