Belfast Telegraph

Missing Dean McIlwaine's family in emotional appeal

By Allan Preston

The family of missing Newtownabbey man Dean McIlwaine have pleaded for him to come home, saying they are "lost without him".

Police held a vehicle checkpoint yesterday on Carnmoney Road, the last place he was seen around 1pm on Thursday, July 13.

Leaflets with Mr McIlwaine's photo were handed out in the hope of jogging any memories of his movements.

It's reported that his grandfather died the day before his disappearance, after Dean had attended a barbecue with friends and family.

Speaking at the appeal yesterday, brother Glen said that he idolised Dean.

"I just want to say, Dean, wherever you are, just let us know, I need my brother back, mum and dad need their son back," he said.

"He was opening his barbershop at the end of this month, had everything going for him. I wish I was him, I would trade places with him any day.

"I wish I had as many friends, I wish I was as talented as him, I just wish he would realise that and get in contact."

His mother Karen had been out with Dean on the Monday before his disappearance, helping him prepare to open the new business.

"I just can't understand, I can't cope. Please come home, we need you. He was loved so much and I just can't believe it," she said.

Comforting his wife, Dean's father Rod said: "Please Dean, just come home, don't worry about anything, just come home.

"We need you, we're lost without you.

"Please talk to us. If you know anything please tell us, we're distraught. We can't sleep at night, it's horrible."

Standing with the family yesterday, Superintendent Emma Bond said: "We rely on the information from members of the public to help us to ensure we're searching in the right places, or indeed to appeal to Dean himself if he sees or hears this to please make contact to let us know that he's safe and well," she said.

"There's a whole range of lines of enquiry, the reason why Dean went missing isn't necessarily important.

"The reason that we're here is to ensure we get as much information as we can to help find him."

Shortly after the vehicle checkpoint police officers using a sniffer dog and working with members of the Community Rescue Service continued their search in a woodland near the family home.

The 22-year-old is described as 5ft 8in, of medium height with blue/green eyes.

He has distinctive sleeve tattoos on both arms.

He was last seen wearing a short-sleeved maroon shirt, denim knee-length shorts and dark coloured canvas shoes.

Police have also released CCTV footage of him entering a Spar shop hours before his last confirmed sighting.

On Monday night a huge crowd gathered at Belfast City Hall to volunteer to help take part in the search.

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