Nearly twenty years ago, Deirdre Fenech’s daughter Carmel went missing. Now, she is speaking out about the lack of publicity their family has received in comparison to the McCanns.
‘Beautiful and intelligent’ teenager Carmel was reported missing in May 1998. She had reportedly fallen in with a bad crowd, and had become addicted to crack cocaine at the time of her disappearance.
Speaking with The Sun, Deirdre described a bullied, impressionable girl who had just been trying to fit in with the ‘in crowd’:
When Carmel started secondary school, she was bullied. She had one leg slightly shorter than the other and became the brunt of cruel jokes. Classmates called her hop-along, limpy – that sort of thing.
So her way to get the others on side is to be part of the ‘in crowd’, to be the class clown.
Then, when she was about 14 years old, she asked me to go to this party with school friends. So I said of course she can go to this kid’s party.
What I didn’t know at the time, it was there she was then introduced to crack cocaine at this so-called party.
I'm appealing for carmel Michaela Pendry fenech Roy 19 years since since she went missing from crawley please help me find her pic.twitter.com/OKh9qbL3NU
— Kalijoy (@Kalijoy3Kalijoy) January 25, 2017
Deirdre found out about Carmel’s addiction through a neighbour, and had begged her to stop. She believes the ‘world’ her daughter got mixed up in has something to do with her disappearance.
Deirdre had attempted to give Carmel a fresh start, moving the family from Peckham to Crawley, Sussex. Sadly, Carmel regularly returned to London and continued with her addiction.
Carmel was eventually placed in social care, and went missing shortly afterwards. Rumours circulated about how she had fallen pregnant and returned to London to tell her drug dealing boyfriend. It was at this point she vanished without a trace.
61-year-old Deirdre has spent the past two decades searching for her daughter in the streets of south London, and has since become bitter about the lack of publicity Carmel’s disappearance has received.
She compares this with the case of Madeleine McCann, whose family have received enormous media coverage ever since the three-year-old went missing from a Portuguese holiday apartment in 2007.
Speaking to The Sun, Deirdre spoke about the imbalance she perceives in missing person cases, which she believes is class related:
People looked at us like we’re scum from Peckham, because we don’t live in a posh house and because our children had problems.
They’re [the McCanns] professional people with plenty of money, a nice, beautiful house and we’re just some scum off an estate – that’s what it boils down to.
— Missing People (@missingpeople) November 27, 2014
Whereas Scotland Yard are currently asking the government for more money to fund the Madeline McCann investigation, Deirdre claims she has not heard from the police in three years.
She feels her daughter’s case has been under investigated due to the family’s socio-economic status:
As far as the police are concerned, we are nobodies.
We are nothing. I was just a single parent with five kids from a rough council estate.
Sussex Police have advised Carmel hasn’t been forgotten and the unresolved case continues to be regularly assessed.
However, there has been no further developments and as of yet there has been no confirmed sightings of Carmel.
Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.