Father's murder mystery anguish

THE father of a missing student last night said he was still in the dark about why police were treating his disappearance as a murder investigation.

THE father of a missing student last night said he was still in the dark about why police were treating his disappearance as a murder investigation.

The last reported sighting of Simon Everitt, 17, was near Gorleston's James Paget Hospital at 11pm on June 7 but Norfolk police's major investigation team only launched a full-scale murder inquiry after a call by a member of the public to the police control room on Sunday evening.

Detective Chief Inspector Steve Strong said Wednesday that the call had given them “strong grounds for treating this as a murder rather than a missing-person inquiry”.

But last night, Simon's father Vince Everitt, of Nelson Road South, Yarmouth, said he could not understand why police had placed so much emphasis on one phone call from the public.

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He said: “In a normal world it does not make sense. The police have not told us who the caller was or what was said. We understand that police have to act on information received but we want more emphasis on looking for our son rather than looking for a body.”

However, Det Chief Insp Strong said yesterday that two officers had been permanently assigned at the outset of the inquiry to keep Mr Everitt informed of developments.

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He added that the police could not divulge certain details and Mr Everitt would not have been told the caller's identity but he had been briefed on the reasons police were treating it as a murder inquiry.

Mr Everitt had also been kept informed as three people, two men aged 24 and 19 and a woman aged 39, were arrested on suspicion of murder and interviewed at separate police stations.

They were later released on police bail pending further inquiries.

Pub entertainer Mr Everitt has set up a web page - www.missingson.wetpaint.com - to help in the search for Simon and has received more than 30 emailed messages of support, including one from the US.

He said: “I have been sending the link to the web page to as many public forums as possible. There is no doubt in my mind that Simon is still alive. If we ever did have doubts that would mean we were giving up.”

What gave them hope was that Simon, an engineering student at Yarmouth College, was someone who tended to run away from problems, he said.

Mr Everitt said: “Simon is a typical teenager. If he did not like what mum and dad said, he would say, 'I am off out of here'.”

On one occasion he had stormed out after a row with his mother over washing, and one of the reasons he had decided to move into a bedsit on Yarmouth seafront recently was that “he and I were constantly knocking heads. There was a personality clash”.

Mr Everitt said his son had never been in real trouble with the police and was not known as a “trouble causer”. He had suffered bullying at Gorleston's Oriel High School, but had settled in “fantastically” at Yarmouth College.

His comment was endorsed by Yarmouth College assistant principal Julia Howard who said: “Simon's tutors report that he is a determined student working hard to achieve his qualification in engineering. He consistently demonstrates a positive attitude in class and is achieving well. Simon has high hopes for the future and is keen to apply his skills and knowledge in future employment.”

She said Simon played an active role at the college as a course rep and his friends, staff and students at the college were shocked to hear of his disappearance.

As concern has grown since the last sighting of Simon, on a mountain bike with a male friend in Lowestoft Road, his father has taken to walking the streets searching for him.

He said: “I have walked the same areas he would have walked, along the seafront near his bedsit and down by the river. I look like him so I thought it might jog people's memory of seeing him.”

Twenty police officers are currently working on the inquiry. CCTV cameras are being checked to see where Simon might have been earlier on the night of his disappearance after leaving the town centre, near the BHS store, at about 10.30pm.

Police are asking for public help in finding the silver, black and yellow full-suspension mountain bike Simon had been riding and the one his friend had been on.

Anyone who has seen or had contact with Simon since the evening of Saturday, June 7 is asked to call police on 0845-4564567.

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