Damien Nettles: Police 'no closer' to finding missing teenager

Damien Nettles The teenager was last seen after a night out in West Cowes more than 16 years ago

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Police have said they are "no closer" to finding an Isle of Wight teenager who disappeared 16 years ago, despite a £20,000 reward for information.

Damien Nettles went missing following a night out with friends in Cowes on 2 November 1996 when he was aged 16.

Hampshire Constabulary received 30 reports of information during the six-month period the reward was on offer.

But Supt David Powell said they had yielded no new lines of enquiry and the reward was being dropped.

"I am disappointed that the offer of a £20,000 reward over six months has not led to any new facts or credible leads on the location of Damien Nettles," he said.

"The reward has been publicised extensively since last October and the police remain grateful to all the people and organisations that have given time and support in encouraging information from the public.

"Regrettably and reluctantly, we've had to face the conclusion that the offer of a reward has not taken us any closer to finding out what happened to Damien."

Hampshire Police have "analysed and assessed" the public responses to no avail but said the case would not be closed.

The reward was announced on 4 October. The offer ended on Thursday.

'Unfounded speculation'

Damien's mother Valerie Nettles had called for the deadline to be extended.

But Supt Powell, the senior investigating officer on the case, told her on Friday it would not be

He said: "Hampshire Constabulary has taken the difficult decision not to extend the reward.

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

"Although we always appreciate every single sincere thought and effort to help the police, the information we have received since October has repeated previous unfounded speculation, contained factually inaccurate details or fallen short of police standards for a reliable source.

"I understand and respect the Nettles family's views on why the reward should be extended but after much deliberation and careful consideration, I am not convinced at this time that the extension of a police reward can bring us closer to finding Damien.

"I would like to take this opportunity to recognise the courage and tenacity of the Nettles family.

"It's important in any case of this size to pause for reflection, take stock, assess whether any other potential leads exist and consider what other reasonable actions the police could take."

He said murder or foul play could not be ruled out.

In 2011, detectives arrested eight people on suspicion of murdering Damien, who lived in Woodvale Road in Gurnard, Cowes.

They were questioned over the course of a year and released with no further action.

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