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Police to stop Sophie search after the weekend

PUBLISHED: 08:52 07 January 2018 | UPDATED: 08:52 07 January 2018

Sophie Smith, who has gone missing from Gorleston. Photo: Norfolk Police

Sophie Smith, who has gone missing from Gorleston. Photo: Norfolk Police

Norfolk Police

Proactive police searches for missing student Sophie Smith are to end once the weekend is over.

The search for missing Sophie Smith, on the beach at California in north Norfolk. Picture: Ian BurtThe search for missing Sophie Smith, on the beach at California in north Norfolk. Picture: Ian Burt

Norfolk police say the searches for the missing Gorleston student will not carry on from Monday, but added they will react to any fresh information received.

The news came as Sophie’s family said money raised from a Justgiving site set up after she went missing should be donated to mental health charities.

A volunteer search crew took to the skies as well yesterday as the search continued for Sophie Smith.

A Cessna 210 belonging to the charity Sky Watch Civil Air Patrol flew over the coast in the morning for one hour around Sophie’s native Gorleston looking for any signs of the 21-year-old, who has not been seen since Boxing Day.

The search for missing girl Sophie Smith continues on Winterton beach.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYThe search for missing girl Sophie Smith continues on Winterton beach. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Graham Broom, chief pilot of the organisation, said the plane had a pilot and three observers and that they were “looking to get more aircraft up in the future”.

Sophie, who studies at the University of East Anglia and suffers from severe anxiety and depression, was last seen at just after 3am on Boxing Day, prompting extensive searches and a huge community reaction.

On Thursday police revealed the student had left a note at her Avondale Road home disclosing her intentions to walk into the sea.

A Facebook group devoted to finding her has attracted more than 30,000 members, with Tom Mardell - one of the group’s administrators - also conducting his own search of the coastline.

Martin Knowles, Sophie’s father, said this week he believes in his heart and mind that Sophie is still out there somewhere.

Sophie’s mother, Lynn Shaw, said she was now fearing the worse for her “little girl” and urged anybody suffering from anxiety or depression not to face it alone.

A Justgiving page was set up this week to raise funds for search supplies, however, at the family’s request this was later changed to benefit mental health causes.

The Samaritans are free to call at any time, from any phone on 116 123. They are there around the clock, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

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