Police have revealed that their investigation into the disappearance of a north-east teenager has been hampered because the CCTV on the bus he was last seen boarding did not work.
The last recorded sighting of Liam Smith was at Union Square in Aberdeen last Saturday, where he bought a ticket for Raemoir Road in Banchory at 1.11pm.
Officers trying to track down the 16-year-old yesterday explained that they have been unable to confirm where Liam got off due to the faulty camera equipment aboard the 202 Stagecoach vehicle.
Search helicopters and sniffer dogs scoured Lumphanan earlier this week following a report that the Westhill Academy pupil had been seen in the village, but officers later confirmed that Liam had never been there.
The huge search operation then relocated to Banchory, and attention has now shifted to Crathes after a fellow bus passenger told police they saw Liam alight from the coach there.
Liam’s increasingly concerned family have been donated a drone by a local firm, to help in their own search for him.
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Yesterday, search teams explored Crathes while the force’s marine unit kayaked along the River Dee from Banchory to Aberdeen.
Speaking in the afternoon, Chief Inspector Martin Mackay confirmed the inquiry had been further complicated because Liam left home without his mobile phone.
Ch Insp Mackay said: “Despite our best efforts we have had no verified sightings of Liam in Banchory.
“Our last sighting of him remains at Union Square because the CCTV on the bus was not working that day.
“We have received information that he left the bus at Crathes and our search is now focused on that area.
“This is a challenging inquiry in difficult weather and grim conditions.
“It is not helped by the fact that Liam does not have a mobile phone with him and we do not know why he would have chosen to head towards Deeside.”
Liam bought a bottle of Lucozade, a packet of Jaffa Cakes and a bar of Dairy Milk chocolate before catching the bus and police have asked people who may have noticed litter from the items to get in touch.
Officers will today visit Union Square to see if shoppers can help to shed any light on Liam’s movements last Saturday.
Anyone with information should call police on 101.