A FIREARM found during the search for missing Damien Nettles may not be connected to the case, police have said.
The firearm was found on Friday afternoon during the search of Marshland off the Newport-Cowes cycleway.
Specialist police officers from Hampshire Constabulary’s Force Support Unit (FSU) and Island Support Unit (ISU) are using a range of techniques to examine the area for human remains. Six officers from a water search and recovery team havebeen looking for evidence underwater and on marshland over the past twodays.
The search will resume tomorrow (Saturday).
PC Nick Humphreys of Hampshire Constabulary’s Force Support Unit (FSU) said: "We’re all fully trained in water search and recovery for our safety. The visibility in the water is zero, and is approximately six to 12 inches deep, then you hit a thick layer of silt, mud and clay, which is probably around four to five feet deep.
"We’re using poles and our feet to strike anything that is solid. It is an arduous task, we are going in up to our knees,sometimes our waists, but we are systematically searching through the mud trying to indicate any objects in that mud and silt."
Senior investigating officer DCI Dave Powell, of Hampshire Constabulary’s Major Crime Department, said: "The area we’re continuing to search was identified after the police received more information about the possible whereabouts of Damien’s body.
"We’re still not in a position to discuss the details because it is important for the police to protect how they gather sensitive information.
"Officers from our Force Support Unit and Island Support Unit have a great deal of expertise and experience in carryingout these types of searches in demanding conditions. A wide range of objects have been recovered from the water since Thursday morning.
"These include old tyres, handbags, mobile phones,bottles and masonry. It’s impossible to tell straight away whether an item found by the police will have any connection or significance to our investigation. Therefore, it’s also important for the media and the public not to draw hasty conclusions about any items discovered by officers during this search.
"Unfounded speculation about this case in the past has upset the Nettles family and undermined police enquiries to establish facts."I would like to take this opportunity to thank the community for their understanding and co-operation while this search is continuing. We do not want to disrupt people’s lives more than is necessary.
Officers are particularly grateful to Isle of Wight Council, which has supplied archive aerial photographs of this marshland as part of our routine research into the geography of this area in the 1990s when Damien went missing."