The family of a businessman missing in the Highlands have said that their hopes have been raised by a potential sighting.
A massive search was launched in the Drumnadrochit and Loch Ness area on Friday for Jason Gates, an accountant from Portsmouth.
The 36-year-old travelled had north on holiday, and had been staying in Aviemore with his treasured pet spaniel Max.
But before his disappearance emerged last week, the dog was caught by police after he killed sheep while running loose.
They traced him back to Mr Gates using his microchip, but concerns began to grow when the accountant’s car was found in the centre of Drumnadrochit on Thursday.
Last night, Mr Gates’s father Malcolm told the Press and Journal that there had since been a possible sighting of his son – renewing hopes he will be found.
“Somebody sighted him going from Inverness down to Perth on the London train, but the police haven’t been able to confirm it,” the 67-year-old said.
“The police said they had a witness who saw him walking past them on the train in Inverness station.
“It has raised hopes. They also haven’t found anything in the searches. I’m more optimistic that he is around and just keeping a low profile for some reason.
“We just hope he might be in a B&B somewhere with an older couple who haven’t been watching the news.”
Search teams, including dogs, and a rescue helicopter were again scouring the area yesterday.
Allanmore farmer Robert Paterson reported early last week that four sheep had been killed and two others badly injured, in a field near the Drumnadrochit visitor centre car park.
The dog was found by a neighbour and has since been cared for by a Highland rescue centre.
Mr Gates sen revealed the farmer has now contacted the family, and said he does not want to have the dog put down.
Mr Gates’ mud-splattered Audi Quattro estate car was found parked by the tourist information office in the centre of the village on Thursday.
The keen walker, who is single and is part of his family’s recruitment agency, was believed to have been spotted a few miles from Drumnadrochit that day.
Yesterday, a police spokesman said: “Officers are continuing searches in the Drumnadrochit area today, Sunday, March 20, for missing Jason Gates, 36.
“A number of resources are involved including specialist dogs.
“He is described as being 6ft 3in tall, of slim build, with short, cropped greying hair with facial stubble.
“It is unknown what clothing he was wearing but he habitually wears black jeans, T shirt and black padded jacket and tweed jacket and possibly walking boots.
“Police would like to thank the public for their support to date and appeal to any person with information contact Police Scotland on 101.”
Searches have covered a wide area – from Loch Ness, north of Drumnadrochit, to Urquhart Castle and several miles south and included the Enrick and Coiltie rivers.
It also stretched five miles westwards, inland, to woodland beside Loch Meiklie where another dog walker reported to police that they had seen a man on his own who may have matched his description.