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It's 16 years to the day since teenager Damien Nettles disappeared on the Isle of Wight after a night out in Cowes.
Police are calling on the community of the Isle of Wight to recall and reflect on events in the town of Cowes during the night of November the 2nd 1996.
16 years ago this week was the last time that 16-year-old Damien Nettles from Gurnard on the island was seen during a night out in Cowes.
Detectives are renewing an appeal for information about Damien's movements on the night he went missing, and his possible whereabouts now.
A reward of £20,000, funded by Hampshire Constabulary, remains on offer until the start of April 2013 for information leading to the location of Damien Nettles.
Full terms and conditions can be requested by phoning police on 101 or going online to www.hampshire.police.uk
Information received since the reward's announcement on October 4, 2012
Senior Investigating Officer Superintendent Dave Powell said:
"Since the police reward was announced on October 4 this year, we have received at least 20 pieces of information. Police are grateful for the public's continued interest and support for our efforts to find out what happened to Damien. We
are determined to solve this case with the help of the community.
"The information received over the past month is being assessed by detectives who are keeping an open mind about future lines of enquiry. We must not draw any premature or hasty conclusions. Regrettably we must remember that Damien's disappearance has been the subject of much misinformation and gossip over the past 16 years.
"The crucial challenge in this case is separating fact from fiction. Only facts will allow our enquiries to locate Damien and the ultimate answers sought by police and the Nettles family."
16th anniversary appeal
The last confirmed sighting of Damien on surviving available CCTV is Damien in Yorkie's fish and chip shop off Cowes High Street at 11.35pm on Saturday, November 2, 1996.
Damien was also positively identified by his family from CCTV of Cowes High Street at 12.02am on Sunday, November 3, 1996. This footage showed Damien walking to a bus stop and then back along the High Street eating his chips.
Police are appealing for further information about Damien-s movements and whereabouts in the Cowes area during the weekend he went missing in November 1996.
At the time of his disappearance, the description of Damien was:
- Six foot three inches tall
- slim build
- short brown hair, shaved at the back
- brown eyes
He was last seen wearing:
-A black fleece jacket
- Dark blue jeans
- Black boots
Support from the community
Superintendent Dave Powell said:
"It's important to take this opportunity to thank everyone who continues to raise and reinforce awareness of this case.
"The Nettles family, the media, the public and partner agencies have all given invaluable efforts and exposure to all our appeals for information.
"For this 16th anniversary appeal, police would like to express our gratitude, particularly for the assistance of Wightlink ferries and Onboard TV.
"Adverts appealing for information about Damien are being screened on Wightlink ferries from this week until the end of March when the time period for this reward ends."
Avoiding speculation about previous and possible suspects
Eight people were arrested on suspicion of murder during 2011. They were questioned and investigated over the course of a year and released with no further action and no charges.
Police would again ask all media and members of the public not to publish speculation about the identities of previous or potential suspects. Such speculation is likely to jeopardise lines of enquiries to find Damien.
Superintendent Dave Powell added:
"Murder or a crime cannot be ruled out, but I stress again that speculation, gossip and the spreading of rumours won't help the police and the Nettles family find the answers we seek in this investigation."
Police actions in this case to date include
- Police have received at least 76 pieces of information since the 14th anniversary of Damien Nettles' disappearance on November 2, 2010.
- 1,085 people have been involved in the investigation (either as investigators, witnesses, or people of interest) since Damien Nettles disappeared on November 2, 1996.
- 352 witness statements have been taken to date since November 2, 1996.
- 2,440 documents have been reviewed and processed.
How to contact police if you have facts
Anyone with facts about the Damien Nettles case can contact Hampshire Constabulary by phoning 101 and asking for the Major Investigation Team at Fratton police station in Portsmouth or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Mini-Com users can call 01962 875000. Information can be given anonymously by phoning the independent Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111.