AislingSymesPolice in New Zealand have confirmed that the body of a child found in a drain in the Auckland suburb of Henderson is that of missing two-year-old Aisling Symes, whose father Alan hails from Stradbally.
It was initially thought that Aisling had been abducted from the front yard of her late grandmother’s home after she went missing over a week ago. However an autopsy on the body, discovered in a storm drain on Monday, suggests the toddler drowned as there were no signs of injuries. The investigation’s lead inspector, Gary Davey, said the postmortem showed Aisling’s death was “consistent with drowning”. Aisling was watching her mother, Angela, fix a tap on a washing machine when she wandered away.
The Henderson community is devastated by the news, as indeed is the Stradbally district where Alan lived for many years. In a statement released to the media, Aisling’s parents said the loss of their daughter was unbearable. “It’s hard to imagine life without her, without her infectious smile and bubbly nature”, the statement continued. “Even though we grieve for our loss, our hearts go out to the parents and extended families of children in New Zealand and elsewhere who are still missing. Our priority remains on supporting each other. The days ahead will be difficult and we thank you for your continued love and support.”
A message on the Facebook internet page “Find Aisling”, set up by her family, thanked people for their support and asked them to pray for them, “as this is going to be the hardest time of our lives”.
Police have revealed that the drain was searched up to four times before Aisling was finally found, including twice on the night she disappeared. A police officer had climbed two metres down into the drain and shone a torch up and down, calling Aisling’s name, to no response. The officer estimated that he could see five metres either direction. Aisling’s father also looked in the drain that night, as did a search-and-rescue crew.
Alan Symes lived at Church Lane
in Stradbally with his parents, Wymond and Olwyn, and sister, Eithne, in the 1980s. The family were prominent members of the Church of Ireland community and Alan and Eithne attended the local Stradbally National School before receiving their secondary education at Newtown School in Waterford city.
However, following the sudden death of Wymond Symes, who worked as a sales representative, the family moved to New Zealand. When Aisling was born in the Waitakere Maternity Hospital in Auckland in June 2007, her proud family announced her birth to their Waterford friends via the Stradbally Notes in The Munster Express. Alan and Angela Symes also have a daughter, Caitlin, aged five.