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Friday, 25 July 2014

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Appeal as Cumbrian soldier, 18, vanishes after night out

A teenage soldier has vanished after a night out, sparking a huge police-led effort to trace him.

Josh Thomas photo
Josh Thomas

Josh Thomas, 18, was last seen a week ago today as he enjoyed a night out with friends in Rochester, Kent.

Police say they are becoming increasingly concerned for the young soldier, a former pupil of Trinity School in Carlisle who lived in the Brampton area.

His family said they just wanted him home. CCTV images examined by police show Josh at a traffic island next to Rochester Bridge just before 1am last Wednesday. He had earlier been with a group from the Royal Engineers, based at Brompton Barracks, who were out drinking together that night.

Police have appealed for anyone who may have seen him since he went missing to get in touch.

The teenager’s father Gary, who lives near Neath, South Wales, spoke to Josh hours before he disappeared as he had passed his City & Guilds electrical exam.

“They went out to celebrate because they did so well in their exams,” he said.

He had got his kit ready for the following morning.

“I am thankful I did speak to him before he went out.

“They were in great spirits. He seemed cheerful and very happy like he always is.

“All his officers I have spoken to said he is well-liked and is doing well in his exams and is aiming for good things. He was looking forward to going to Germany on tour in the summer.”

He said the family had been overwhelmed with the support they have had.

He added: “Because it has happened so far away we are thankful we are getting the support we are receiving around here. Everyone who knows him loves him.”

Josh’s aunt Bev Bowman added: “He is a loving, caring boy and we just want him home.”

His cousin Jeremy Latimer, who used to run Lowood gallery, at Armthwaite, said they were keen for news.

Insp Ada Leppard, from Kent Police, said of Josh: “He got a little way across [the bridge], fell over and then a member of the public stopped in a vehicle and we’d love that person to come forward.

“On CCTV the black hatchback goes past Josh, then reverses up and I believe a conversation took place.”

He said that Josh was noticeably drunk and that the motorist appeared to have stopped out of concern.

Josh’s disappearance has prompted a huge appeal to find him on the social networking site Facebook.

Anyone who knows anything about Josh’s whereabouts should call Kent police on 101 - quoting reference 10-0243 - or Crimestoppers, anonymously if necessary, on 0800 555 111.

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