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Gaia Pope's Father, Richard Sutherland, Thanks Volunteers For Searching For Missing Teenager

The 19-year-old has been missing for 11 days.

18/11/2017 17:08 GMT | Updated 18/11/2017 17:09 GMT

The father of missing teenager Gaia Pope has thanked hundreds of people for trying to find his daughter, who has not been seen for 11 days.

Richard Sutherland joined volunteers who were searching the areas around Swanage on Saturday afternoon.

Clothes belonging to Gaia, 19, were found on Thursday on open land south of the Dorset town near cliffs.

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Gaia Pope's father Richard Sutherland thanks members of the public before a community search at Durlston Country Park in Dorset for the missing teenager.

Speaking to members of the public who had gathered at Durlston Country Park, her father said: “I just want to say a massive thank you for coming out.

“It is very heart warming and the support gives us a lot of hope.”

The mass searches had been organised by the Find Gaia group on Facebook and saw volunteers gather at the country park, near the main beach and to the north of the town looking for the teenager, who suffers from severe epilepsy.

Since she disappeared hundreds of missing person posters have been distributed across the county.

Detectives have arrested and released under investigation three people, a 71-year-old woman, a 19-year-old man and a 49-year-old man, named locally as Paul Elsey.

On Friday, Gaia’s mother, Natasha, said she has not given up hope her daughter will be found alive – saying “I believe miracles can happen”.

In a message posted on social media she said: “I believe in this community and I believe miracles can happen.

“I am holding onto hope, along with Gaia’s sisters and the whole family who are my strength. Please hold on with us.

“My eternal thanks to everyone who is out there searching for my little girl. Please come out over the weekend and do what you can. Every one of you makes a difference.”

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Members of the public looking for missing teenager Gaia Pope during a community search at Durlston Country Park in Dorset.
PA Wire/PA Images
Members of the public looking for missing teenager Gaia Pope during a community search at Durlston Country Park in Dorset.

Earlier, her father said he feared Gaia’s epilepsy may have played a part in her disappearance as she had been warned by doctors that she was at risk of sudden death from the condition.

She has not been seen since about 4pm on November 7 in Manor Gardens, Swanage.

An hour earlier she was captured on CCTV buying an ice cream inside St Michael’s Garage in the town, having been driven there by a relative.

She was wearing a red checked shirt with white buttons, grey and white woven leggings and white trainers. The black jacket she had on was recovered from an address in Manor Gardens.

Forensic investigations have concluded at two properties in Manor Gardens, which are believed to be the homes of a 71-year-old woman and a 19-year-old man.

The pair were released under investigation on Tuesday after being arrested on suspicion of murder the previous day.

Today more than 50 personnel, including police, coastguard, the fire brigade and Dorset search and rescue were continuing to look for Gaia, the Press Association reports.

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Police put up a missing person notice for Gaia Pope in Swanage, Dorset.

PC Simon Colvin, neighbourhood officer for Swanage, told the volunteers: “The community has done an amazing job of coming together to help.

“Some of you are local and some of you have travelled a long way. I understand someone has travelled over 300 miles to come and help today. People’s help really is appreciated.”

But he warned volunteers to watch out for hidden disused mineshafts and to stay away from the cliffs.

“The last thing we need is anyone putting themselves in danger, which could take resources away from elsewhere,” he added.