It will be 20 years next month since Isle of Wight teenager Damien Nettles disappeared without trace, and now a leading human rights barrister has been drafted in to assist the campaign solve the case.
On November 2, 1996 Damien Nettles went out with a friend for the evening, but never came back. Then aged just 16, Damien had gone into a shop in East Cowes with the friend before they went their separate ways at 10.30pm.
Damien was captured on CCTV at Yorkies fish and chip shop in West Cowes at around 11.35pm. The CCTV shows Damien acting strangely, but since that date, there has been no trace of him.
No prosecutions have arisen from his disappearance despite several arrests and papers being passed to the Crown Prosecution Service.
A BBC TV documentary this summer, ‘Unsolved: The Boy Who Disappeared’, in which reporters Bronagh Munro and Alys Harte investigated what happened to Damien on that fateful night reignited interest in the campaign, and that impetus continues with the appointment of barrister Ian Brownhill.
Campaigners want extra funding to help solve the case, and contacted Brownhill following his continued support of the family of missing toddler Ben Needham.
Brownhill, who continues to advise Kerry Ann Needham, Ben’s mother, was part of the crucial campaign which secured £700,000 from then Home Secretary Theresa May to carry on investigations into the British toddler’s disappearance on the Greek island of Kos.
A human rights and public law specialist with leading national set No5 Chambers, Brownhill was happy to assist Damien’s mother, Valerie Nettles, in making sure that Damien’s case is not forgotten and that it is given the attention and investigative resources it deserves.
He said: “I am delighted to have begun work with Valerie Nettles about clarifying where the investigation into Damien’s disappearance has got to and where it is going in future.”
Damien’s mum, Valerie Nettles who is now resident in Texas, said: “As a family we remain optimistic that one day we will find out what happened to Damien.
“We are really grateful to Ian for agreeing to work with us, and confident that his experience in working with Ben Needham’s family will help keep Damien’s story in the public domain.”
BBC Reporter Bronagh Munro added: “I am continuing to work with the Nettles family on Damien’s case as many outstanding lines of enquiry remain unsatisfied.”
Damien Nettles, a dual British and American citizen, is still missing. No charges have ever been brought and a body has ever been found. The case surrounding his disappearance remains unsolved.