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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 November, 2004, 06:49 GMT
Missing boy's mother sparks clue
By Thelma Etim
BBC News, Hampshire

Image provided by National Missing Persons Helpline charity
Damien Nettles in 1996 (left) and how he may look today
The mother of a boy who went missing eight years ago says she has helped generate fresh leads by making public appeals during a visit from the US.

Damien Nettles was 16 when he disappeared after a night out with friends in Cowes on the Isle of Wight on 2 November 1996.

Valerie Nettles, who now lives in Texas, flew in to the UK on Sunday to meet with Hampshire Police detectives.

She said a "sighting of a boy that may have been Damien" has come to light.

I still believe he is alive, there is not a day that goes by where I do not think about my Damien
Valerie Nettles

Mrs Nettles said: "A young man was seen carrying a plastic bag walking along Baring Road outside Solent Middle School around 12.30am (on the night he went missing).

"This was after he was captured on CCTV footage at Yorkies fish and chip shop at 11.45pm that night. "

After leaving the chip shop, Damien was last seen at 12.20am walking alone along the High Street in Cowes.

She added: "I still believe he is alive. There is not a day that goes by where I do not think about my Damien.

"I am trying to remain positive but it is exhausting.

"At this point I and my family need closure, I urge anybody out their to come forward if they have any information about him."

Mrs Nettles moved to Texas with her remaining children in 2001, when her husband was offered a new job in Dallas after being made redundant from his previous position in the UK.

'Staying strong'

She added: " We cope because we have to - we have no choice.

"I have to keep going for my other children. I also have to stay strong for Damien so I can keep looking for him."

She had a meeting with Det Supt Dave Williams, of Hampshire's Major Crime Unit, who is leading the inquiry, on Tuesday.

"New information has been gathered since I have been back in the UK, and as result of my appeals there have been calls to the police and the National Missing Persons helpline," explained Mrs Nettles.

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