The sister of missing Fraserburgh man Shaun Ritchie has demanded Police Scotland launch a fresh search for her brother after 10 months of talks between officers and an expert grave finder.
Nicole Shand told The Press and Journal she doesn’t understand why discussions are taking so long, saying she has had no contact with officers since the talks began last November.
The discussions are between police and Dr Alastair Ruffell – an internationally renowned forensic geologist who helped in the original search for Shaun.
In November last year, the scientist said he had new sonar drone technology which he believed could assist officers in a fresh search for the missing 20-year-old.
Nicole Shand, Shaun’s sister, believes if there is any chance the new equipment could help solve her brother’s case then Police Scotland should take it.
‘They should be doing it’
She said: “I feel like we have been waiting for a response for a long time now.
“They have been in discussions for a while regarding an answer for a fresh search for my brother Shaun.
“If it has some potential then I feel they should be doing it.
“I haven’t had any contact from the police since it was announced they were in discussions.
“I don’t have to be in regular contact at all times – but it would just be comforting as a family to receive an update of what the plans are.”
‘It’s been torture’
Shaun went missing on Halloween night 2014 at Kersiehill Farm near Strichen.
He had travelled to the area in a van with five friends and two other men.
A documentary by The Press and Journal revealed an altercation occurred in the van.
Allegations of an axe attack went to court.
“That’s nearly eight years now since he went missing and I still have been hoping and longing for answers and closure,” said Nicole.
“It’s what we deserve as a family.
“It’s been torture not knowing the truth around Shaun’s disappearance.
“Something needs to be done. Shaun is such a big miss to all.”
Problems with original search
Since his disappearance, police have maintained that Shaun ran into the boglands surrounding Kersiehill Farm and that he remains there.
Dr Ruffell told this publication that his original search for Shaun around Kersiehill Farm could not be classed as “high assurance” due to the limited search area.
However he believes his equipment back then would have found Shaun had he been within the area of the bog he had been able to search.
His new sonar drone technology would allow him to search a far greater area.
Police Scotland confirmed last year that they had begun talks with the scientist regarding the possibility of a new search.
Ten months and no answer
It was understood that the optimal time for a fresh search would be in the summer months due to the terrain where Shaun went missing.
However 10 months after the offer was first tabled, Police Scotland say they are still “in discussions”.
Chief Inspector Martin MacDougall said: “An offer of further specialist search expertise is being considered.
“The search operation to find Shaun Ritchie remains one of the largest ever carried out by Police Scotland and we continue to review the circumstances to consider any new investigative opportunities.
“I would encourage anyone who has new information to contact us via 101.”