FIVE men have been arrested on suspicion of murdering a teenager who disappeared almost 15 years ago.
Damien Nettles, 16, went missing following a night out with friends on November 2 1996.
Officers from Hampshire Constabulary’s Major Crime Department launched a mammoth investigation involving 790 people following his disappearance.
So far 214 witness statements have been taken and 1,380 documents have been reviewed and processed.
But Damien, from Woodvale Road, Gurnard, on the Isle of Wight, has never been found.
Police probing the teenager’s disappearance have now arrested a 44-year-old man from Cowes, a 48-year-old man from Sandown, a 37-year-old man from Ryde, a 50-year-old man from Newport and a 39-year-old man from Gravesend, Kent.
All five men were arrested between 5.45am and 6.30am yesterday.
They are being quizzed at police stations across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
Detective Chief Inspector Dave Powell, senior investigating officer, said: ‘The Nettles family has displayed tremendous tenacity and courage in campaigning consistently to encourage witnesses and assistance from the community.
‘There has been an intermittent flow of information since 1996 with people coming forward years after Damien’s disappearance. This suggested there was always the possibility that members of the public had extra knowledge, which could take the investigation forward.
‘We also welcome the ongoing support of charities, professional partner agencies, local businesses, media organisations and the community in reinforcing awareness of the family’s billboard campaign across the island over the past year.
‘Although we have sufficient information to make arrests over an allegation of murder in 1996, detectives will keep an open mind about exactly what happened to Damien because a wide range of information has been received over the past 14 years.
‘The body of Damien Nettles has not been located or identified at this time.’