Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Marsh search for missing Damien Nettles ends

Police searching the marsh land with a raft
Image caption The fingertip search involved officers using rafts to comb the water

Officers investigating the possible murder of a teenager who went missing on the Isle of Wight 15 years ago have ended marsh land searches for his body.

Damien Nettles was last seen after a night out in West Cowes on 2 November 1996, when he was aged 16.

Specialist teams had been using rafts to comb the water and huge reed beds at Dodnor Nature Reserve, near Newport.

Det Ch Insp Dave Powell said: "We have not found Damien, and, further more, we are confident that he is not there."

Mr Powell, who is the senior investigating officer, added: "This is exceptionally disappointing to us in many ways, however the search for Damien goes on and, as ever, we urge anyone who has information that they think can help us to make contact."

A number of items were recovered during the search, which will be examined to establish whether they are relevant to the investigation.

Five men arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of murder remain on police bail.

Four were from the island: a 50-year-old from Newport, a 48-year-old from Sandown, a 44-year-old from Cowes and a 37-year-old from Ryde.

A 39-year-old man from Gravesend, Kent, was also questioned.

Image caption Picture of Damien Nettles in 1996 aged 16 and how he may look today

During the marsh searches, detectives were said to have been studying aerial photographs of the site taken by the council in 1992 to highlight any subsequent signs of changes or disturbance in the ground.

Officers were led to the marsh land, near the Newport-Cowes footpath in Newport's Stag Lane area, following new information.

When Damien went missing he lived with his family in Woodvale Road, Gurnard, but they have since moved to Texas, USA.

The last confirmed sighting of Damien was on CCTV at Yorkie's fish and chip shop in Cowes High Street.

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