University student who vanished on Boxing Day may have gone into sea, police believe

The poster for the missing 21-year-old, Sophie Smith in a shop window in Gorleston. Picture: DENISE

The poster for the missing 21-year-old, Sophie Smith in a shop window in Gorleston. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017

Police investigating the disappearance of young university student Sophie Smith now fear the most likely scenario is that she went into the sea.

Sophie Smith, 21, who has been missing since Boxing Day morning from Gorleston. Picture: With permis

Sophie Smith, 21, who has been missing since Boxing Day morning from Gorleston. Picture: With permission of @sarah_janee_xo - Credit: Archant

Sea and coastline searches are taking place across Suffolk and Norfolk today for the 21-year-old, who vanished from her home in Gorleston on Boxing Day.

The UEA student had been suffering from severe anxiety and depression, and left her home in Avondale Road in the early hours wearing only a vest and shorts.

She did not have a mobile phone on her and police are extremely concerned for her welfare.

In an update issued this morning, Inspector Will Drummond from Norfolk police said: “Sophie had been receiving treatment for depression and anxiety.

Insp Will Drummond briefs media outside Great Yarmouth Police Station about cctv images showing a wo

Insp Will Drummond briefs media outside Great Yarmouth Police Station about cctv images showing a woman running towards the sea. Picture: GEORGE RYAN - Credit: George Ryan


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“Our enquiries have revealed there’s been a degree of pre-planning to her disappearance and this, combined with her mental state and comments made the previous day, suggest the most likely scenario is that she has gone into the sea.

“The sea searches will be carried out by the coastguard while the police helicopter is being deployed to conduct coastline searches.

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He added: “Based on tidal analysis, the searches will be carried out in targeted areas.”

Sophie left the family home at about 3am and was captured on CCTV a short time later, heading towards the seafront.

A reward has been offered for information leading to the safe return of missing Sophie Smith. Pictur

A reward has been offered for information leading to the safe return of missing Sophie Smith. Pictured, l-r, are family members aunt Rebecca Russell, dad Martin Knowles and sister Sarah Knowles. Picture: ANTONY KELLY/NORFOLK POLICE - Credit: Archant

Inspector Drmmond added: “Local CCTV footage has been examined but unfortunately Sophie is not captured on any other cameras.

“She didn’t take her mobile phone and hasn’t accessed her bank accounts or social media accounts since leaving home.

“This is clearly a very distressing time for her family and we continue to keep them updated of ongoing work in this case.”

The update from police comes as Sophie’s father made a heart-wrenching appeal for her to come home.

Sophie Smith, who has gone missing from Gorleston. Picture: NORFOLK CONSTABULARY

Sophie Smith, who has gone missing from Gorleston. Picture: NORFOLK CONSTABULARY - Credit: Norfolk Police

Martin Knowles said his daughter’s disappearance in the middle of the night between Christmas Day and Boxing Day had left him devastated and not knowing what to do.

He added: “I would just like to say to Sophie if you’re listening to this or watching this video just come home.

“We just all want you back. Your mum loves you, I love you, your sister Sarah loves you, your aunty, all your friends at UEA and here in Gorleston we all love you.

“Just don’t be frightened. We all want you back with open arms and just love you so much.

“Please Sophie, just come back.”

Police have described Sophie as white, around 5ft 8in and slim with shoulder length blonde hair.

They believe she was wearing a dark coloured vest top and light coloured shorts when she disappeared.

Anyone with information should call Norfolk police immediately on 101.

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