POLICE will not increase the deadline for a £20,000 reward for information about the disappearance and suspected murder of Damien Nettles, despite pleas from his mother to extend it.
However, Hampshire Constabulary investigators will keep the Operation Ridgewood case open and plan to review it in the coming weeks.
The reward put forward by the police expired at midnight on Thursday (4) following a six-month period, during which the police received 30 pieces of information.
However, after analysing it, it failed to lead investigators to any new lines of inquiry and that it consisted of either previous speculation or fell short of police standards as reliable sources.
In recent weeks, Damien’s mum, Valerie Nettles, who now lives in Texas, had pleaded with the police to extend the deadline for information.
Damien disappeared after a night out in Cowes in November 1996 and the case has remained open since that date.
In 2011 there was a series of arrests, however police subsequently released all suspects without charge.
Senior investigating officer, Superintendent David Powell, said: "I am disappointed that the offer of a reward has not led to any new facts or credible leads on the location of Damien.
"The reward has been publicised extensively since last October and the police remain grateful to all the people and organisations that gave time and support in encouraging information from the public.
"Regrettably and reluctantly we've concluded that the offer of a reward has not taken us any closer to finding out what happened to Damien.
"I understand and respect the Nettles family’s views on why the reward should be extended, but after much deliberation and careful consideration, I am not convinced at this time that the extension of a police reward can bring us closer to finding Damien."
Supt Powell added he had contacted Damien’s mum Valerie to let her know that despite her calls for the reward to be extended, it would not be.
However, Supt Powell also added that despite the decision, the case was not closed.
"I recognise the courage and tenacity of the Nettles family. We are acutely aware that this difficult decision is a disappointment.
"I will now be dedicating further time to review the case so far.
"It’s important in any case of this size to pause for reflection, take stock, assess whether any other potential leads exist and consider what other reasonable actions the police could take.
"I will be keeping the Nettles family informed of my latest review of the case over the next few weeks before reaching a decision on what will happen next.
"In the meantime, the case files remain open for any new facts that members of the public may have."