Damien Nettles mother's hope for missing body find

Image caption,
Damien was last seen after a night out in West Cowes almost 16 years ago

The mother of missing Isle of Wight teenager Damien Nettles still believes his body will be found despite no one being charged in connection with his possible murder.

The 16-year-old was last seen after a night out with friends in West Cowes, on 2 November 1996.

The last of eight suspects arrested and questioned over Damien's disappearance, or possible murder, was released from bail by police, with no further action, in June.

But Damien's mother Valerie remains hopeful her son's remains will be found as she believes people living on the island know what happened to him.

"I don't know what they're scared of," she said.

"But don't you think almost 16 years is too long to leave a family in this limbo of hell?

"Someone has to come forward and tell the police what happened to Damien."

The last confirmed sighting of Damien was on CCTV at Yorkie's fish and chip shop in Cowes High Street at about 23:45 GMT.

Damien had lived with his family in Woodvale Road, Gurnard, but his parents moved to Texas because of his father's work.

Mrs Nettles said: "It's disappointing the police haven't got any results but they need to find sufficient information.

"Maybe they got hold of the wrong people, or just asked the wrong questions."

Mrs Nettles, who hopes to raise a £10,000 reward to catch the killers she believes are responsible, said it was her "mission" to remind people her son is still missing.

"The chatter coming out of the Isle of Wight is that Damien was murdered, I need these people to come forward," she said.

Image caption,
Valerie Nettles is still hopeful her son's body will be found

When asked how Damien's unsolved disappearance has affected her life, Mrs Nettles said: "Someone on a missing person's web chat forum recently asked: 'Do you ever feel detached, like watching yourself, devoid of emotion?' - that's the best way of explaining it.

"A lot of emotions are raw and bubbling over at first but they have to be suppressed and you have to learn to live with it.

"I live with Damien 100% of the time. I'm always thinking about him in my head but if I talk about him now it's like I'm talking about the weather."

Mrs Nettles, who works as a secretary, also spoke of the effect the case has had on her family.

"My husband and I will have been married for 36 years in July but the fact Damien's still missing puts a strain on things," she admitted.

"My daughter Sarah, who lives in Seattle, finds it hard to cope at times. She's just had a baby so she's had to back off from the campaign.

"And Melissa, my youngest, desperately misses Damien but I believe my son James has found it the hardest."

Punishment beating

Mrs Nettles has helped organise a number of fundraising events including a concert in the Isle of Wight last April.

More than £3,600 has so far been donated towards the £10,000 reward that the Nettles hope to offer for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Damien's killer and the recovery of his remains.

Mrs Nettles believes her son was killed over a minor cannabis debt.

"I'd love a conclusion, but I don't think I'll get a happy ending," she added.

Supt Dave Powell, of Hampshire police, who is leading the investigation, said: "Our work to find out exactly what happened to Damien Nettles will be continuing."

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