Body found in search for missing Gosport kayaker

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Police searching for a Gosport man who went missing while kayaking in the Solent have found a body.

A major search operation was launched last night to find 54-year-old Stephen Taylor of Newbroke Road, Gosport.

This afternoon Hampshire Constabulary said a body had been located, but did not reveal where.

A spokeswoman said Mr Taylor’s family have been notified and are being supported by officers.

Formal identification procedures have not yet taken place.

It is understood Mr Taylor left Lee-on-the-Solent at around 11.30am yesterday in his blue-coloured kayak with the intention of paddling to Lepe beach in the Southampton area.

Mr Taylor, who is an experienced canoeist, was in touch with his partner throughout the day but when he had failed to return home late in the evening she alerted police.

He is believed to be wearing a wetsuit, light blue coloured long sleeved top, navy blue life jacket with a red detail and a beige sun hat.

It is believed there may have been a sighting of Mr Taylor at approximately 10.50pm on Saturday, April 18 by a passing vessel.

Lifeboats, coastguard teams and the coastguard helicopter had been searching for Mr Taylor throughout the night.

An area has been cordoned off in Salterns Road, Hill Head to assist the search and police are advising people to avoid the area where possible.

Ash Rawson, controller at the National Maritime Operations Centre at Fareham, said: ‘We are searching for a kayaker who was expected home last night (18th).

‘A vessel has been in contact with us to report a possible sighting and we are following up on this report as well as continuing our in depth search of the area with multiple agencies.’

Hill Head and Portsmouth Coastguard Rescue Teams are undertaking shoreline searches; the Coastguard helicopter from Lee-on-the-Solent is searching along the coastline and out into the Solent; Lymington lifeboat is searching and the Coastguard is making broadcasts to all shipping, requesting that they keep a sharp lookout for the kayak and missing person.

Anyone with any information which may assist police should call 101. If a life is in danger dial 999.