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Shaun Ritchie: ‘We’ve been robbed of special moments,’ says heartbroken dad on anniversary

Shaun Ritchie
Shaun Ritchie. Image: Supplied

Shaun Ritchie and his loved ones have been robbed of life’s special moments – and his heartbroken dad wants to know why.

Marking the eighth anniversary of the Fraserburgh man’s disappearance, Shaun’s father Charlie has opened up on the emotional turmoil his family have suffered – and made a fresh appeal for help in solving the mystery.

A group of young men including Shaun travelled in a van to Kersiehill Farm near Strichen shortly after 10pm on Halloween 2014.

On eighth anniversary, the riddle remains

There was a disturbance in the van and Shaun ran off into the darkness fearing something might happen.

Shaun was never seen again, though some of his clothes were found nearby.

Seven others were with him that night and yet a riddle about what happened remains.

The Press and Journal last year exclusively released a documentary Missing from The Broch: The Disappearance of Shaun Ritchie, which revealed important new details about the case.

Among those was the revelation that the van’s driver, Neil “Nuggs” Robertson, had been charged with an alleged assault with an axe on the night Shaun went missing.

He was found not guilty of the charge. Police said Shaun had already fled the van at the time of the alleged assault.

‘We’ve been robbed of those moments’

Reflecting on the past eight years, Shaun’s dad Charlie Reid told us: “This year marks Shaun’s 28th birthday. As a family, we think about him every day.

“We think about the fact that, at this time of his life, he would have maybe been settling down, with a promising career, possibly a partner and maybe children of his own.

“Whatever happened on that night eight years ago has robbed us – and Shaun – of those life landmarks that many people get to enjoy with their families.”

Charlie Reid. Image: Mhairi Edwards/DC Thomson

Charlie, who previously put up a £10,000 reward for information, added: “With every year that passes, the chances of discovering exactly what happened on that night fade a little more, but it would mean so much to us to know what went on.

“People who were there that night know more than they have so far said to the police.

“After eight years, we hope they will do the right thing and come forward with what they know.”

Anniversary hope of new hi-tech search

One development that could hold the key to giving the family some closure is the potential for a new search of land around Strichen, using high-tech sonar drones.

Charlie said: “After The Press and Journal’s documentary, we were overwhelmed by the massive support we received, from people in Fraserburgh and the wider north-east community.

“We were also encouraged by the prospect of Police Scotland potentially utilising new drone technology to carry out a new search of the area Shaun went missing.

“Such a search is yet to be carried out, but we hope the police will continue to actively pursue this option.

“We will be speaking with police in the coming months about this option and hope swift progress can be made.”

One of Scotland’s largest missing person operations

It is understood detectives are considering using the sonar drones and are holding talks with national specialist advisors to discuss how it would work.

Speaking to mark the anniversary of Shaun’s disappearance, Detective Inspector Andrew Wilson said: “We fully appreciate how hard it must be for Shaun’s family with another year passing since his disappearance and our thoughts are with them at this difficult time.

“Our inquiry into Shaun’s disappearance remains one of the largest ever missing person operations in the history of Police Scotland.

‘We will act on new information’

“Extensive and detailed searches were conducted with assistance from every specialist air, land and water resource, with more than 200 officers covering more than 22km of ditches, rough terrain and large water areas.

“We were also assisted by the expertise of a forensic soil scientist and geoscientist, while we pursued every potential lead with thorough intelligence-led inquiries.

Det Insp Wilson added: “We continue to consider all available means of investigation and will act on any new information that is provided to us.

“Anyone with even the slightest amount of information is urged to contact us on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 if you wish to remain anonymous.”

Watch our Shaun Ritchie documentary here

Missing from The Broch: Our documentary reveals new details surrounding Shaun Ritchie’s disappearance