Oxford

Father's appeal after son goes missing in Canada

Tom Billings
Image caption Police believe Tom Billings went hiking in the North Shore area of Vancouver

A father has issued an appeal for help to find his son who has disappeared while hiking in Canada.

Tom Billings, 22, has been missing since 25 November, after failing to return to accommodation in Vancouver.

The recent graduate had been exploring North America for the first time and could be in the mountainous North Shore area, his father Martin said.

Mr Billings, an Oxford lawyer, said Tom had probably "got in trouble on the mountain".

Speaking at a police news conference in Vancouver, Mr Billings said his son had been hitch-hiking, travelling by bus and "couch surfing" - staying with hosts he meets through the internet.

He last exchanged emails on 22 and 23 November when his son was in Seattle in the US. He said Tom was then in a "light-hearted" mood.

"We think he would have got himself up to the North Shore and gone out for a three to four-hour hike," he added.

"We think that Tom could be out there somewhere.

"Hopefully, he's holed up in a warm place and someone has seen him who can pass information on to the police.

"We just hope he can be found somewhere safe and can get back to his normal life."

'Too horrible to mention'

When asked at news conference for his "gut instinct" on what had happened to his son, Mr Billings said: "The things that have gone through my mind are in many ways too horrible to mention, I cannot deny that.

"I think most likely is that he got into trouble somewhere on the mountain. From there, I do not know.

Rescue teams have conducted a "massive sweep" of the area Tom is thought to have visited and are now preparing to conduct another search of a wider area, he said.

He had been due to return to England last weekend.

Canadian police said a number of calls have led them to believe Tom - a "seasoned traveller" - went to the North Shore area of Vancouver on a hiking expedition.

A spokesman said "no tip was too small" in helping to trace Tom.

"Our concern is that he is injured and he is out there and needs help," he added.