Police have confirmed to UTV that the missing Comber man at the centre of a murder investigation contacted them just before he disappeared.

William ‘Pat’ McCormick has now been missing for nearly three weeks and more searches have been carried out in Co Down as part of the ongoing investigation.

The 55-year-old has not been seen since Thursday 30 May, when he left his parents’ home in Ballynahinch and drove back to Comber in his black Citroen C4.

However, the PSNI has now confirmed that the father-of-four made a call to them that day.

Area Coordinator Chief Superintendent Peter Farrar said in a statement: “On 30 May, police received a call from Mr McCormick prior to his disappearance and the police gave advice over the phone regarding the call.”

Extensive searches have already been carried out, with the latest efforts conducted in the Comber River near the leisure centre and in a lake just off the Lisbarnet Road.

Police have also said “significant searches” are being carried out in the Ballygraffan Road area.

The detective leading the investigation has urged anyone in the local community with information, no matter how insignificant it may seem, to come forward.

I would like to appeal to those directly responsible to come forward to police – examine your conscience and allow Pat’s family to give him a proper burial. You are denying them this right.

PSNI Detective Chief Inspector Pete Montgomery

PSNI Detective Chief Inspector Pete Montgomery said: “It is now almost three weeks’ from Pat’s disappearance and his family remain absolutely devastated.

“They deserve to know what has happened to him and deserve to have his body back.”

He added: “Members of the local community may have information that could be key to giving Pat’s family some answers.

“I would urge anyone who has any information surrounding Pat’s disappearance to contact detectives at the incident room at Musgrave Street on 101.”