A lot of information has circulated regarding Adrian’s disappearance and the investigation, both factual and false. A number of recurring themes of questioning have also appeared via traditional and social media forums and this overview is intended to publicly inform and consolidate on the current status. The States of Jersey Police (SoJP) have been open and transparent in the information they have provided to the public and recognise the benefit in providing a comprehensive update.
Adrian’s clothing and items
On the night of his disappearance, Adrian was wearing a blue River Island two piece suit, brown belt, white shirt, white t-shirt and black slip-on shoes. He was believed to be in possession of his passport for proof of age purposes, having recently lost his driving license and he would have had two keys on a single ring with no fob – one a key to a Ford Fiesta, and the other an ordinary Yale door key. He also wore a white and yellow gold signet ring encrusted with a diamond.
Adrian had spent the evening of Friday 4th December 2015 at a combined electrical contractors’ Christmas function at the Merton Hotel. He had consumed a quantity of alcohol and was intoxicated. A colleague arranged for a taxi to collect and take him home, and Adrian left by taxi at about ten minutes to midnight. It is believed that a misunderstanding over the address however led to Adrian being dropped off at the junction of La Rue and La Ruette D’Avranches (halfway between the Six Rues and Carrefour Selous junctions) with Adrian indicating he lived very close nearby. He was actually over a kilometre south of his home address.
He had his phone and wallet in his hand as he got out of the taxi, and these were located the following morning on the road surface in La Ruette just a few metres away from where he got out of the taxi. Although there was no cash in the wallet it is believed that Adrian had spent the cash he had earlier withdrawn from an ATM at the function, and used the remaining £3 to top up the amount his colleague had given the taxi driver when he collected Adrian at the hotel. Due to the positioning of the phone and the wallet, it is believed that he may have sat down for a while on the road surface placing these items down, but inadvertently leaving them behind when he moved off.
Adrian was dropped off at around five minutes past midnight. The following is a chronology of movements of who we believe to be Adrian over the next two or so hours. Times in some cases are approximate based upon witnesses’ best recollection, and references to “Adrian” are based upon a belief that this is indeed Adrian from references to description.
Adrian’s belt was located on the Saturday by a householder in his garden in Le Passage, near to the boundary with Cooke’s Roses Farm. It was loosely coiled. A friend of Adrian has said that Adrian occasionally removed his belt and carried it in a coiled fashion. It is believed that at some point Adrian had removed and was carrying his belt. It is possible that he dropped or placed this when either leaving or entering the garden near to the Cooke’s Roses Farm complex, possibly at around 02:30 if the last report of hearing shouting related to Adrian passing southwards through the site.
Saturday 5th to Monday 7th December 2015
Contact was made by the finder of Adrian’s wallet and phone with Adrian’s family on the Saturday morning, and the family started their own enquiries before reporting Adrian missing in the early afternoon. An early assessment of the circumstances prioritised Adrian as a high risk missing person and enquiries initiated. Searching was carried out well into the night.
A multi-agency meeting involving representatives from a number of agencies was held at 07:00 on the Sunday and searching continued throughout the day and into the night, under the coordination of a trained police search advisor. One of the challenges that searchers faced that weekend and in the days and weeks that followed was the relative brevity of daylight hours, although searching into the night continued when it was considered conceivable that Adrian may still be alive.
On the Monday a decision to set up a major investigation room was taken, and a command structure to support the multi-agency working established. Use of the UK HOLMES major investigation computer system for recording and tracking data and lines of enquiry was also established. Although a missing person enquiry, the investigation room, team structure and processes mirrored that used nationally for major enquiries, whether crime related or not. The investigation started with regard to all possibilities, and has remained as such.
This had been declared as a critical incident and a command structure put in place to ensure strategic and tactical requirements were recognised and responded to. A Gold / Silver / Bronze terminology is applied nationally across the emergency services to major incidents, and Detective Superintendent Stewart Gull assumed the role of the “Gold Commander” which he still retains. Detective Chief Inspector Lee Turner who had been involved since the Sunday morning was designated as the Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) over-seeing Detective Inspector Steve Langford as the “Silver” for investigation and Inspector Tim Barnes as the SoJP “Silver” for the multi-agency searching.
From Sunday 6th to Tuesday 22nd December representatives from ten agencies were used daily in coordinated searching. They were spread across a total of 28 designated zones covering about 12 square kilometres in total, as seen on the map below. There were typically between 30 and 60 searchers deployed on any one day, the management and coordination of which required significant effort and monitoring. The search zones were designated according to the information picture that was developing as the enquiry progressed, and centred on those areas that featured in the reported sightings of Adrian as well as the potential directions he may have travelled in.
1 km radius (2 km diameter) circular zones of higher priority were established, centring on Adrian’s last known location (taxi drop off / belt recovery area) and the furthest believed movement indicated (Thistlegrove / Bon Air stables area). Such zones were also based on input from national search advice, and a National Search Advisor from the College of Policing worked in the island for a few days with search management in December.
The support of the public was and has been significant and careful ongoing consideration was given from the outset on Sunday 6th December and throughout the active search phases to using members of the public in support of coordinated searching, working alongside agency personnel. During this critical phase of the searching, it was assessed that there were sufficient resources for the task in hand. To involve the public in this coordinated way would have placed an unnecessary burden and additional risk on the overall coordinated search. This decision was strongly endorsed by a National Search Advisor from the College of Policing in the early stages.
There are a number of water sites in the general area ranging from garden ponds to the Handois and Dannemarche reservoirs. A number of these aspects could be and were covered by trained Fire and Rescue officers and divers from TTS. Other more challenging aspects were reviewed and where applicable covered by sonar specialists from Humberside Police.
Specialist victim recovery dogs were also utilised over two phases in December and January in areas assessed to require particular attention, or which presented significant challenges to other search methods. These dogs are trained to find deceased people, unlike the more general purpose police dogs which are used by SoJP who are trained to locate the living. As with any search assets, although highly trained these dogs are not infallible and require focus – this is directed and monitored by trained handlers, and will on occasion be restricted by environmental conditions such as wind direction.
A drone used by trained Fire and Rescue personnel was also deployed and viewing of footage monitored and examined over a number of days in support of other methods. This covered a total of about 12 hours flying time and covering a total distance of some 80,000 metres.
With regard to the possibility that Adrian may have been involved in a road traffic collision (RTC), additional and focused search attention was also paid to road surfaces and boundaries (extending up to 10 metres either side of the road surface) inside and out of the 1 km higher priority zones, not only for Adrian but for any debris or item that may have been discarded or flung upon any impact (which is common). Unsurprisingly, debris from what are believed to be minor historic collisions was located, but nothing of apparent relevance to Adrian’s disappearance.
Several thousand personnel hours in total were used in searching the designated areas, both before and after Christmas. There was and remains no information on which to base extending such parameters other than simply extending outwards in all directions which would not only require an exponentially growing resourcing requirement, but would also depend upon the consent of private property owners in circumstances where there would be little or no rationale to request or expect this. In short, in the absence of any more specific information, further searching is simply considered unviable.
Further searching for example in the central Carrefour Selous area was conducted in January based on a hypothesis arising from the last indication of Adrian’s presence in the Cooke’s Roses Farm area at 02:15 – 02:30.
This position has been supplemented by repeated requests for land and property owners to check their own areas outside of these zones, to use employees to assist on commercial and agricultural sites and to call the police for assistance if for example; the infirm or restricted are unable to thoroughly check property and outbuildings.
Difficult decisions such as those involving the parameters of extended searches have to be made, but as with all aspects of major investigations the practical implications are such that parameters have to be applied based on rationale, and the Senior Investigating Officer making such decisions rightly remains accountable for these.
The northern boundary areas around St John’s Village were based on earlier indications of Adrian’s direction of travel from the taxi drop off and the direction of his home address. The absence of any sightings past these areas limited the extent of these zones; however, the north coast has featured in search activity, including the Channel Islands Air Search plane, and also by the States of Jersey Fire & Rescue Service and other assets based on reports of possible relevance. Other areas have also received search attention in response to other possibly related pieces of information that were received.
An internal review of all search documentation is being carried out in order to establish the necessity for any revisits.
Hypotheses and lines of enquiry
A number of hypotheses were established by the SIO in the early phase of the investigation, falling within the three main nationally recognised categories of missing people:
The hypotheses established, form the basis of documented investigative strategies, which themselves drive principle lines of enquiry. The investigation has remained open-minded to all possibilities including criminal and third party involvement, but to date it remains that there is no credible information indicative of a crime. Such is Adrian’s apparent disorientation, intoxication and vulnerability that night, some form of misadventure is still considered the most probable eventuality, but other possibilities have never been ruled out.
Before clarification was obtained as to why Adrian might have taken off his belt, an explanation was considered that he might have been experiencing the onset of hypothermia. As bizarre as it might appear, undressing in some cases of hypothermia can occur although no further items of Adrian’s clothing have yet been discovered. Another reaction can be a form of hibernation-like activity in terms of deliberate and tight self-concealment, and this has not been ruled out. Although it was a relatively mild and dry night, Adrian was not dressed to remain outside overnight, and this combined with intoxication leading to increased cooling of skin surfaces could possibly have created physiological hypothermic reactions. This is only a possibility however and cannot be determined with any certainty such are the variables involved, but consultation with a Home Office pathologist has taken place in this regard and cannot be entirely ruled out. Contrary to what might be thought, it does not need to be bitterly cold for hypothermia to occur.
The structure of the investigation is such that any turn of events can be accommodated and catered for. Although this is a missing person investigation open to all possibilities, a murder investigation would follow a similar structure but its strategic direction would be influenced by those aspects indicative of a murder having taken place, eg discovery of a body in such circumstances or credible information that this was indeed the case. It is not a matter of switching from a missing person enquiry to a murder investigation simply because a period of time has elapsed without discovery.
Whether a missing person or a murder investigation, both seek to identify sources of intelligence, information and evidence in order to establish what has happened. This is why reference has been made to terminology such as “witness strategy” and “house to house enquiries” which would be expected in murder investigations, but have also been used in this investigation in order to identify and capitalise on information opportunities. As an example, witness strategy included written appeals in foreign languages placed in public areas and delivered to farms in the central parishes. A house to house zone was designated covering the routes Adrian is known to have taken, and may have proceeded to take, covering over 300 properties and over 500 residents, all of whom identified and spoken with.
A range of other lines of enquiry cover issues such as forensics, family liaison, passive data opportunities including CCTV from 18 sites, vehicle damage, and importantly the media.
Over 1,000 people have been spoken with during the investigation, over 250 witness statements recorded and over 560 investigative actions generated over and above the search activity described.
At the end of January a National Missing Persons Advisor and a National Senior Investigating Officer Advisor from the National Crime Agency visited and undertook a review of the structure, hypotheses and basis for the lines of enquiry being generated. As with any form of review in any field, a number of recommendations were made, gratefully received and duly considered and acted upon to varying degrees with regard to the local context and ongoing developments in the information picture. Support and further recommendations were also provided following this, by an NCA National Search Advisor in addition to those given before Christmas by the College of Policing.
There have been over 30 media releases since the investigation began and a number of interviews with DCI Turner and D/Supt Gull. The outreach to an immensely supportive community wanting to help the police and Adrian’s family has been significant. There have for example been 14,122 YouTube hits on the Thistlegrove CCTV images.
A number of appeals for information have been made, including for a number of people who might have seen Adrian or something of possible relevance to come forward. Despite repeated appeals, a number of persons remain outstanding – these are people who very possibly might simply have seen or heard something of interest, however insignificant or irrelevant this might appear to them to be.
In addition to this, despite a number of requests and other enquiries, it cannot be confirmed that all persons either in, passing into or out of the area at the relevant time have been identified. The CCTV at Thistlegrove identifies a number of vehicles passing in both directions throughout the night but makes and models are not distinguishable – we believe most have been identified but not all.
The investigation will not be concluded until Adrian is found and the circumstances of his disappearance established as far as is possible. Maintaining a resourced investigation room and team however is only appropriate whilst there are feasible lines of enquiry to investigate, and these are not infinite. Adrian remains missing and SoJP will continue to consider any potential for fresh investigative leads and monitor any new intelligence or information, and remain ready and willing to resource and respond appropriately to any such developments.
This has been a unique and unprecedented missing person enquiry for Jersey. Whilst the States of Jersey Police will continue to keep an open mind as to any eventuality in respect of Adrian’s disappearance as set out as above, as difficult as it may be to comprehend on a small island, indications are that Adrian simply remains missing by misadventure. This has been an open and transparent investigation, and for as long as Adrian remains missing the Police remain committed to finding him.
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