Lake searched in missing Becky hunt

Published: Friday 27th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Police divers are searching a lake in a park near the home of a teenage girl who disappeared eight days ago.

Rebecca Watts, 16, known as Becky, was last seen at her house in Crown Hill in St George, Bristol, on the morning of February 19.

She left home with her phone, laptop and tablet computer but did not tell friends or family where she was going, or take extra clothing.

Avon and Somerset Police have been searching for the teenager since she was reported missing by her family at 4pm on February 20.

A force spokesman confirmed: “We’ll be searching the pond in St George’s Park today. This is routine and there’s no specific intelligence on it.”

Speaking at the park yesterday, Detective Inspector Richard Ocone, who is leading the investigation, said Becky disappeared between 11am and 12pm.

“There was a conversation between Becky and her stepmother that morning when she returned home,” he said. “There were other people in the house at that time.

“From our perspective this is completely out of character. She has not taken anything that would suggest she was going to stay away for a long period of time.”

Mr Ocone would not confirm which family members were inside the property at the time Becky went missing.

Becky’s father, Darren Galsworthy, previously told reporters he was at work at the time his daughter vanished.

Mr Galsworthy posted a message suggesting that his daughter may have been attacked, on his Facebook page on February 25.

“This is a message to all wives, mothers and girlfriends it was my baby girl’s time of the month so if you have washed any blood from your partner’s or son’s underwear and they can’t explain it please imagine if this was your child what would you do please report it,” he wrote.

Mr Galsworthy also posted messages begging Becky to return and said a white Transit van had been “hanging around” near his home on the day of her disappearance.

Mr Ocone declined to comment on the messages but insisted police had received no information that Becky had come to harm.

“This is very much a missing persons inquiry,” he said. “We have nothing to suggest that Rebecca has come to any harm and clearly we would like to return her home as soon as we can.”

Officers are combing woodland and open spaces near Becky’s home, along with house-to-house inquiries and have searched her neighbour’s gardens and outhouses.

Searches at a nature reserve, Troopers Hill in Bristol, have now concluded without anything of significant found.

Mr Ocone confirmed the search was currently remaining in the “Bristol and Greater Bristol area”.

Hundreds of leaflets have been printed and a social media campaign, using the hashtag #FindBecky, has been launched by the force.

Teams from South Wales Police and Wiltshire Police are also taking part in the search, along with dog handlers and mounted officers.

Mr Ocone said the social media campaign had been far-reaching, with almost 400,000 viewing tweets and 22,000 engaging with them by retweeting, favouriting or clicking on them.

More than two million people around the world have seen the campaign on Facebook, with 30,959 shares including in Goa, New Zealand and America.

Facebook Ads have been used to target people in the Bristol area, reaching more than 21,000 and directing hundreds to the #FindBecky page on the force website.

Mr Ocone added: “We hope that this large online presence will lead to someone remembering something from the area or days following Becky’s disappearance.

“We know that Becky is very keen on social media, as are most girls her age, and so we want our online communities to help us keep our appeal for information running.”

Becky is described as 5ft 4in and slim, with long, bright red hair and was wearing a dark navy blue Puffa jacket with fabric sleeves.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Avon and Somerset Police on 101, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Published: Friday 27th February 2015 by The News Editor

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