Mother hopes Olympic building work will unearth son’s body

The Mario Filho stadium under construction in Rio de Janeiro. Picture: AFP
The Mario Filho stadium under construction in Rio de Janeiro. Picture: AFP
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A SCOTS mother whose son disappeared in Brazil ten years ago today has said she hopes his body will be recovered in wasteland being developed for the 2016 Olympics.

Isobel Coghill believes the discovery of her son Mark Swanson’s remains would finally bring her ordeal to an end.

The oil worker from Caithness, who was 31 when he vanished a decade ago in Rio de Janeiro, on 19 November 2003, is suspected to have been murdered in the crime-ridden city.

His family hopes the multi-billion pound construction programme for the forthcoming Olympics, and the 2014 World Cup, may locate his body and lead to the arrest of his killer.

Ms Coghill still lives in “the most unlikely of hopes” that he may turn up alive, but says she realises he is most likely dead.

Speaking from the family home in Wick, she said: “I just hope his body is discovered during the construction work for the Olympic Games. That would end our ordeal. I always hope he is alive. I have never given up. The police in Rio are still investigating and the case is still open.

“But I know it is unlikely he is alive. Police believe they know who is responsible, but have no proof for an arrest.”

The family believes his body may have been dumped in wasteland in a deprived part of the city which would never be searched.

Ms Coghill, who offered a £1,000 reward for information following her son’s disappearance, said: “They are getting ready for the Olympics with construction work. I hope they go to the right place and find him. They have to build new tracks, new football pitches. I hope they come across a body which hold clues to who his killer is. I have never given up. He loved Brazil, but there is a bad crowd. I will never give up until I am told for definite, or his body is found.”

Mr Swanson has not been seen or heard from since he left his flat in the coastal resort of Maceo, 150 miles north of Rio de Janeiro, to meet Sandro da Silva – described as a friend – who owed him £1,000. Mr da Silva admitted meeting Mr Swanson in a suburb of the city on the day he vanished. The Brazilian claimed he repaid the debt and Mr Swanson had left with a “tall” friend with whom he played basketball.

His Brazilian girlfriend at the time, Gabriella, alerted ­authorities. Police are also looking for a woman named Lena, as the last call Mr Swanson made from his mobile phone was to a woman of this name.

Mr Swanson had worked in South America for several years, most recently running the Brazilian office of Servtech, an Aberdeen-based oil company. After the office closed, he worked in Africa and returned to South America in October 2003 to spend time with his girlfriend.

She claimed she received a message from Mr Swanson ­saying he had arrived at the shopping centre in Grande Rio. She insisted he had no links to drug gangs, but members of the expatriate community who know Mr Swanson believe he may unwittingly have become embroiled with local criminals.

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “We appreciate that it remains a difficult time for Mark’s family as it is now coming up for ten years since his disappearance.

“The investigation into Mark’s disappearance remains open, and we continue to be in touch with the local authorities and remain in contact with Mark’s family providing consular ­assistance.”