Mother of missing son unveils clifftop banner in hope that cyclists could have vital clues

Catherine Leach hang's missing banner on cliffs in a bid to find cyclists who she believes may have been the last people to see her son Danny Smith before he went missing.
Catherine Leach hang's missing banner on cliffs in a bid to find cyclists who she believes may have been the last people to see her son Danny Smith before he went missing.
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A DETERMINED mum has launched a clifftop banner appeal in a bid to find two cyclists she believes may have been the last people to see her son before he went missing nearly seven weeks ago.

Catherine Leach and friends have erected a 14ft banner on top of cliffs in Whitburn, known locally as Jackie’s Beach, in an effort to help trace her son, 25-year-old Daniel Smith.

Daniel Smith

Daniel Smith

The banner urges the two cyclists to get in touch as Miss Leach thinks their sighting of Daniel could prove key to the police’s ongoing search – which again saw officers searching the area yesterday.

The former Whitburn Comprehensive School pupil has not been seen since Friday, March 20.

The two cyclists stopped to allow someone thought to be Daniel to pass along a single track at the top of cliffs.

Miss Leach is desperate to hear from them as her wait for the truth over Daniel’s disappearance stretches on.

It is very frustrating. You just want answers. It is killing me.

On the day he disappeared, Daniel had been drinking at the Yates’s bar in Holmeside, Sunderland, with a friend, before returning to his home in the city, in Villette Path, Hendon.

At 6.40pm, he bought cigarettes at a local shop, and his girlfriend received a picture text from him, taken near the Little Italy restaurant on Seaburn seafront, at 8pm.

He did make one final unanswered call to his girlfriend at 8.40pm that night, with the last ping recorded on his mobile phone placing him in the Marsden area of South Shields, around the same time. Miss Leach, of Livingston Place, South Shields, said: “It has cost a small fortune to purchase the banner, but I am hoping that it will get the right result.

“It is a huge 14ft banner that will hang over the railings on the cliffs.

“The two cyclists have still not come forward, and if they don’t see the banner, I don’t know what else I can do.”

Last week Miss Leach – helped by friends, family and the police – carried out a search of the coast from Marsden Grotto to Souter Lighthouse and beyond.

They were hoping their painstaking hunt would uncover clues to what happened to Danny on the day he went missing, but any such evidence continues to prove elusive.

A professional diver has also offered his services free to the search effort.

He was due to have a look around in the North Sea off the South Tyneside coast yesterday, but his mission had to be called off due to adverse weather conditions.

Miss Leach added: “He will definitely be coming when the weather is better.

“The tide and the wind were so strong that it couldn’t have happened. I was gutted when I realised the search couldn’t go ahead.

“It is very frustrating. You just want answers. It is killing me.”

Daniel, or anyone who has seen him, is asked to contact police on 101 ext 69191, quoting reference 1113 21/03/15, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

Twitter: @shieldsgazchris