Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Damien Nettles: Mother says family friends digging in bid to find body

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Media captionThe location of the dig has not been revealed

The mother of a teenager missing for 18 years has revealed family friends have been digging at a site for the past year in a bid to find his body.

Damien Nettles was 16 when he vanished after a night out with friends in Cowes on the Isle of Wight in November 1996.

Police believe he was murdered but no-one has ever been convicted.

Valerie Nettles, who lives in the US, said friends on the island offered to dig after police said information about potential burial sites was unreliable.

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Image caption Damien Nettles was last seen on CCTV in Yorkie's fish and chip shop off Cowes High Street
Image copyright valerie nettles
Image caption Valerie Nettles said her friends had no plans to stop digging

A short video of the volunteers apparently digging at the site was released on Sunday by Damien's sister Sarah, who also lives in the US.

Hampshire Police has declined to comment on the new developments but said the case was still open and any new leads would be investigated.

Ms Nettles has not disclosed what location is being investigated by her friends but stressed they had been given permission from the landowner and local police officers were aware.

She has previously called on police to look into two sites around Gurnard and Parkhurst Forest after tip-offs, one of them from a clairvoyant.

But detectives have dismissed the information as "unreliable and inaccurate".

Speaking from Texas, Mrs Nettles told BBC News: "I did ask the police to do this for us but they wouldn't. A group of people on the island said 'let's do it ourselves'.

"Nothing has been found so far which points to Damien being buried there. But it's hard, they don't have a lot of equipment and do it as and when they can."

On the video posted by her daughter, she added: "She wanted to make a point. We won't go away."

The last confirmed sighting of Damien was on CCTV in Yorkie's fish and chip shop off Cowes High Street at 23:35 GMT.

In 2011, detectives arrested eight people on suspicion of murder but they were all later released without charge.

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