Updated: Kelso family appealing for help to find missing Andrew, 28

A distraught mother fearful she’s lost a second son to the River Tweed has made a plea for help in finding him so that, even if her worst fears are realised, he can be laid to rest beside his younger brother drowned in the same waters 11 years ago.

Tuesday, 24th March 2020, 3:26 pm
Andrew Moriarty has now been missing for almost a month.

Andrew Moriarty, 28, was reported missing after a night out in Kelso late last month.

He was last seen close to the town’s abbey at around 2am on Saturday, February 29, after leaving the Vibe nightclub in Vault Square.

At the time, Andrew, described as 6ft 2in tall, with short ginger hair, was wearing a grey Nike hooded top, blue jeans and grey Nike trainers.

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Kelso town centre.

Since then, more than 100 volunteers have taken part in daily searches, but without success so far.

His disappearance is a tragic echo of the death of his brother Martin after being pulled under water by sudden strong currents near the Tweed’s junction with the Teviot while playing there on a sunny day at the end of May 2009.

His death at the age of 13 left his parents, Ann and Andrew Moriarty, of Hendersyde Park in Kelso, devastated, and now the couple, originally from Ireland, are facing fresh heartache.

A police search for Andrew has now been called off, although the inquiry into his disappearance continues.

Martin Moriarty.

That’s a decision the family reluctantly accepts, although they admit it is hard to take, so they’re now appealing for more volunteers, particularly professional divers, to keep the hunt going as much as possible in light of the coronavirus-induced lockdown now in force.

Andrew, who lived with his parents, was in good spirits just before his disappearance and was hoping to take up a building job in Edinburgh, they say.

Ann, 56, accepts that her son has probably perished in the river, but she hasn’t quite given up all hope of seeing him alive again.

If, as feared, her son is dead, though, she is desperate to have his body retrieved from the river so be can be laid to rest alongside his little brother.

The mother of eight and grandmother of seven said: “The fact that his wallet was found in the river leads us to believe that is where he is.

“There is always that chance that something other than that has happened, but with no activity on his phone or bank card, that leads to more distress knowing that something has happened.

“I lost another son to the water 11 years ago and, if that’s happened again, I just want to lay him with his brother and do what we have to do as a family.

“Andrew was my gentle giant. He was a happy red bear and I got bear-hugs and kisses.

“He’d give you anything. He would do anything for anyone. He was just a gentle soul.

“I realise it is a difficult time, but I would ask anybody who maybe likes to walk their dogs along the river to keep their eyes open.

“The fishermen and ghillies are already doing that, and I know there are eyes on the waters, and I appreciate everything and anything people have done.

“We have good days, and then when the police said that they were stopping the search of the water, that was when I just about went to pieces, but I have pulled myself together and I’m putting one foot in front of the other.

“We’re all struggling. The boys are struggling and my husband is struggling, but we are a strong family, very strong, and we’ll get through this together.”

The family are drawing some comfort from their belief that their son died while attempting a heroic act.

The body of a woman believed to be missing Melita Hachey, 30, of Galashiels, but not yet formally identified was found earlier this month near where friends of Andrew have been searching for him, and relatives speculate that he might have seen it first and tried to help.

Ann said: “We truly believe that he went in the water to pull that girl’s body out because nothing else would have taken Andrew into that water. We just want him back.”

Though the police’s search has now been called off, Ann remains hopeful that her son will be found, saying: “I understand that they put kayaks on the water for two days, that there was a helicopter out and that there were dogs out there, but at no point was there divers used. They had been there to be used but they were never used in the water.

“Whether I understand the decision to call off the search or not, I have to deal with it and I have to take into consideration the rest of the town and the country in the midst of my desperation to find my son.”

Chief inspector Stuart Reid, Police Scotland’s local area commander for the Borders, said that decision was only taken after seeking expert advice and he stressed that inquiries into Andrew’s disappearance are ongoing.

Mr Reid said: “In the three weeks since Andrew was reported missing, there has been intensive search activity carried out, which has included specialist resources such as search teams, divers, the air unit, dog unit and colleagues from the Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue Team and Borders Search and Rescue Unit.

“We have also consulted experts such as the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and set up a team dedicated to co-ordinating the search.

“That team has been available to and in regular contact with Andrew’s family with the latest information we have regarding the search and the inquiry into the circumstances around him being missing.

“At this time, following expert advice, and after an exhaustive search of the areas identified as to where Andrew may have been, the physical search for him has been stood down.

“However, the inquiry into his disappearance remains ongoing.”

Any information on Andrew’s whereabouts can be reported to police on 101, quoting incident number 1,357 of March 1.

Further details of how to help keep up the search for Andrew can be found at www.gofundme.com/f/bring-andy-moriarty-back-to-his-family