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Teenager disappeared exactly 18 years ago today

It is exactly 18 years since the disappearance of teenager Damien Nettles during a night out on the Isle of Wight. The last confirmed sighting of him on CCTV was at a chip shop in Cowes late on the night of November the 2nd, 1996. Despite searches taking place and rewards being offered no trace of him has ever been found. Richard Jones reports.

18 years since teenager's disappearance

Damien Nettles Credit: Nettles family

The disappearance of a teenager from the Isle of Wight is being highlighted this weekend - 18 years after he was last seen.

16-year-old Damien Nettles from Gurnard on the island was last seen during a night out in the town of Cowes in 1996.

The last confirmed sighting of Damien on surviving available CCTV was in Yorkie’s fish and chip shop off Cowes High Street at 11.35pm on Saturday, November 2, 1996.

Damien was also positively identified by his family from CCTV of Cowes High Street at 12.02am on Sunday, November 3, 1996. This footage showed Damien walking to a bus stop and then back along the High Street eating his chips.

The files on Damien Nettles remain with the Hampshire Major Investigation Team (HMIT) for regular checks. These include:

• Contacting Coroner's officers about the discoveries of any unidentified bodies similar to Damien's description.

• Analysing the credibility of any new information reported to police.

No new lines of enquiry have been identified by Hampshire Constabulary over the past year. However, the case is not closed.

Previous police actions in this case include:

• 1,134 people have been involved in the investigation (either as investigators, witnesses, or people of interest) since Damien Nettles disappeared on November 2, 1996.

• 357 witness statements have been taken to date since November 2, 1996.

• 2,553 documents have been reviewed and processed.

• Between 2010 and 2012, it was necessary for the Hampshire Major Investigation Team (HMIT) to concentrate on analysing and acting upon the information already passed to police by the local community.

• This analysis led police in 2011 to arrest eight people who were questioned over the course of a year, and later released with no further action.

• Officers focused on completing existing enquiries while suspects were on bail. We did not charge anyone with a criminal offence.

• Murder or foul play cannot be ruled out.

• Hampshire Constabulary offered a £20,000 reward between October 4, 2012 and April 4, 2013 for facts leading to the location of Damien Nettles.

• Police received 30 reports of information.

• Each of the 30 reports of information has been analysed and assessed in line with police procedures.

• None of the information led to new lines of enquiry. However, the case was not closed.

Hampshire Constabulary remains disappointed that Damien has not been found yet. Our files continue to be kept open to receive any new facts anyone may have about what happened to the teenager in November 1996.

A key point to repeat and remember in this case is the reporting of any new facts - not fictions fuelled by the repetition of rumour.

Anyone with information can contact the Hampshire Major Investigation Team (HMIT) at Fratton Police Station by phoning 101 or emailing operation.ridgewood@hampshire.pnn.police.uk

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Message in a bottle - the discovery

Last month we reported on the beachcomber who found three messages in bottles within minutes of each other on the same stretch of Isle of Wight coastline.

Adie Butler came into the studio and we opened the bottles - inside was one message sent from Dorset, another in German, and one containing a model of a cruise ship.

Since then Adie has been able to discover more about the messages, as Richard Jones reports.

Beachcomber solves washed up bottle mysteries

A beachcomber on the Isle of Wight has discovered some remarkable stories behind messages in bottles that washed ashore.

Adie Butler managed to make contact with one man who threw a bottle over the side of a cruise ship as part of an art project.

He also tracked down the German author of a secret love letter, who says no one is allowed to read it except the person she wrote it to.

Adie says it was surprisingly easy to solve the mysteries:

All the stories behind the bottle messages will be revealed on ITV Meridian at 6pm

Report finds Isle of Wight NHS Trust "requires improvement"

St Mary's Hospital Credit: NHS Trust

England's Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, has published his first report on the quality of services provided by Isle of Wight NHS Trust. Overall, the Care Quality Commission has rated the trust as Requires Improvement. Acute services provided at St Mary's Hospital, and Community Health services, were both rated as Requires Improvement. Mental Health services were rated as Good.

The trust was inspected in June under its new inspection regime. The inspection team of 79 people which included doctors, nurses, midwives, hospital managers, trained members of the public, a variety of specialists, CQC inspectors spent three days at the trust. Inspectors also returned unannounced two weeks later.

Inspectors found that staff were caring and compassionate, and treated people with dignity and respect. On the whole, patients received the right care at the right time. The ambulance services achieved national response times, patients were seen and treated in the A&E within four hours, people had surgery, diagnostic tests and outpatient appointments within national waiting times.

But at St Mary's Hospital, the pressure on beds meant that patients were being moved between wards too often, and weekend discharges were delayed. Staffing levels were too low in some areas, with difficulties recruiting staff to work on the island. There were not enough nurses for children's care in the A&E, the acute services, community rehabilitation wards, district nursing and older adult mental health wards. The trust faced a similar challenge recruiting doctors, with some services run by locums and this had not provided consistency of leadership or treatment.

Following the inspection CQC has issued a warning notice requiring the trust to take action to improve the ways it assesses and monitors the quality of its services.

Inspectors also identified a number of areas of outstanding practice, including: The Integrated Care Hub was an excellent example of teams from different disciplines working closely together to ensure that patients had timely access to appropriate services. The call centre provides access to the 999 calls service, NHS 111 service, the GP out-of-hours service, district nursing, adult social care, tele-care services, non-emergency patient transport services, and mental health services. The pharmacy service was operational seven days a week and electronic prescribing had reduced medication errors.

CQC's Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, said:

"We have found some examples of outstanding care. The staff were caring, highly motivated, and treated people as individuals. However people told us how at times low staffing numbers affected their care and treatment and there were also areas of poor practice where the trust needs to make improvements. I recognise the challenge that the island faces in attracting and retaining experienced staff. But, the trust must ensure that the clinical leadership of services improve.

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11-year-old sexually assaulted at picnic site

Police are investigating an alleged sexual assault against an 11-year-old girl yesterday morning on the Isle of Wight.

The incident happened at around 11am when the victim was at Fort Victoria, near Yarmouth, with her family, when she was approached by a man who allegedly sexually assaulted her and then walked away.

The man is described as-

  • White man with pale skin
  • In his 50s
  • Uncut grey hair
  • Clean shaven
  • About six feet tall
  • Average build
  • Deep voice

At the time of the incident the man was wearing a short-sleeved shirt with dark blue and light blue stripes and blue jeans. Police arrested a man earlier today. The man has since been released with no further action to be taken against him.

“This was a rare but very serious incident against a child, during the day in a busy picnic site. We would like to hear from anyone who may have witnessed anything suspicious in the area or who recognises the man from the description. Police have increased patrols in the area over the weekend to reassure the local community."

– Detective Sergeant John Stirling

Women raise £1,700 after completing mammoth swim

Four women are celebrating after they swam around the Isle of Wight, raising £1,700 for the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance.

They completed the swim in just over 24 hours, covering 56 miles in strong tides and choppy, cold waters.

From l-r: Pauline, Heather, Chris, Kate and Ann celebrate with a bottle of champagne! Credit: "Ladies Wot Swim"

Pauline McCracken, Heather Lunt, Ann Brimelow and Kate Steels-Fryatt started the swim at St Helens on Saturday and finished Sunday night, after each swimming six hours and a distance just short of an English Channel crossing.

In the run up to the swim, the team had a late change as their original fourth swimmer, Chris Pitman, fell ill and had to undergo heart surgery. They also had to loan a yacht from Port Solent after they lost their boat and support crew 24 hours before starting.

The ladies finished their swim at St Helens on Sunday evening Credit: "Ladies Wot Swim"

“It feels amazing, I can’t believe we’ve done it after 18 months of planning.

“The fifth hour in the water was the toughest thing I have ever done – I came out smiling but very emotional!”

– Pauline McCracken
The women raised £1,700 for the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance Credit: "Ladies Wot Swim"

Cannon fire marks 100th anniversary of 1st WW1 shot

A cannon has been fired on the Isle of Wight to mark the 100th anniversary of the first shot being fired by the Royal Navy in the First World War.

On August 5, 1914, the destroyer HMS Lance fired the first naval shot in anger in the First World War, sinking the German auxiliary minelayer Königin Luise, which was laying mines off the Suffolk coast.

It came just a day after the United Kingdom entered the Great War.

Today's cannon firing on the Isle of Wight and the sailpast by HMS Mersey Credit: L(Phot) Keith Morgan

One hundred years later and a gun salute has been held at the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes, on the Isle of Wight, with a sail past by the Royal Navy patrol vessel, HMS Mersey.

A single cannon was fired at 10am and was followed by a one minute silence to remember those who served their country.

Today's cannon firing on the Isle of Wight and the sailpast by HMS Mersey Credit: L(Phot) Keith Morgan

"Today’s event marks an important part of UK history and it was a privilege to take part.Just as HMS Lance was protecting our interest in 1914 in a few hours time we will be back at sea protecting our nation’s interest in the waters off the UK.”

– Commanding officer, of HMS Mersey, Lieutenant Commander David Gillett

"People tend to think of the First World War very much as trench war but the Navy was very much involved with ships powering along to protect our land infantry. The Royal Navy was able to secure an asset for us – HMS Mersey – and today’s firing went extremely well.”

– Jane Hodgkins, head of Marketing at the museum
Today's cannon firing on the Isle of Wight Credit: L(Phot) Keith Morgan

One hundred years ago tomorrow (August 6) the Royal Navy suffered its first loss of the Great War – just hours after its first triumph. More than two weeks before the British Expeditionary Force lost its first soldier on the Western Front some 130 souls were killed when HMS Amphion sank in the North Sea with the war barely 30 hours old.

Amphion left Harwich on August 5 to sweep the North Sea with a destroyer flotilla and was in the vicinity when HMS Lance fired on the former North Sea ferry, Königin Luise, as she lay mines to block British shipping lanes. Shortly after 7am on August 6, as Amphion returned to Harwich, she sailed across the line of mines laid by the Königin Luise.

The blast tore apart Amphion’s forward section – every man save one on the forecastle guns was killed. Just before the explosion, 19-year-old stoker 1st break with his fellow stokers, among them a fellow Lyme Regis native, Thomas Gollop. The latter took rather longer to finish his mug of cocoa and this delay saved his life while Herbert Street was killed in the blast.

Also killed was the Royal Navy’s first officer casualty, Staff Paymaster Joseph Gedge, Amphion’s accountant; in his name a medal was subsequently introduced at Oxford University and a science block erected at his former school in Leatherhead – a project backed by the Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Fleet in 1914, Admiral Jellicoe.

More than 130 Britons died in the loss of the cruiser and her wreck, on the bed of the North sea some 30 miles east of Orford Ness, is a protected war grave.

Such casualties would soon be dwarfed by the Empire’s losses in France. But even in the first month of the war, not one day passed without a member of the Naval Service dying – often of illness, some drowned, but most lost their lives in action.

Natasha tackles her biggest ever challenge

Determined 'Sip and Puff’ sailor Natasha 'Miss Isle’ Lambert arrived in Falmouth twith a huge smile on her face after a day of champagne sailing in sunshine and good breeze.

The 17-year-old from the Isle of Wight, who has cerebral palsy and controls her boat by breathing through a straw in a specially-engineered bicycle helmet, is eight legs into her 12-leg sailing challenge and was delighted to be sailing with more power as she completed the 22 miles from Fowey in five hours.

Sea and Summit is Natasha’s biggest challenge yet - a month-long project sailing her specially-designed 21ft yacht, single-handed around the South West coast of England to Wales before she swaps her boat for her special walking aid, called a Hart Walker, to climb Pen y Fan, the highest peak in Southern Britain.

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