Belfast Telegraph

Novelist Colin Bateman's son found six days after he went missing

By Amanda Ferguson

Novelist Colin Bateman has thanked the public for their help in successfully tracing his missing teenage son.

The award-winning writer's 18-year-old son Matthew was tracked down safely yesterday, some six days after he disappeared.

The young man had gone missing from Simon Community accommodation in Belfast on June 13 and had been last seen in the Botanic Gardens area by police.

His father – the writer behind Divorcing Jack, which was adapted into a 1998 film starring David Thewlis – had appealed to the public to "keep an eye out" for the troubled teenager, who has been experiencing some mental health issues recently.

Matthew had been living in Simon Community, initially in Bangor, where his family is from, but then at Malone Foyer in Belfast.

He was asked to leave the facility on Friday 13 and did so without money or clothes.

Later that day police spoke to him briefly in Botanic Gardens and he said he would return to the Simon Community to collect his possessions but he did not turn up, causing alarm.

A police appeal was issued on Wednesday and the missing man's father took to social media to appeal to members of the public who may have seen him.

A number of sightings were reported to the PSNI before officers found Matthew. It is understood he was taken to the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald and is being offered support.

Last night Colin told the Belfast Telegraph he was grateful to the media, his fans, people on social networks and the wider public for their help at what has been a difficult time for his family.

"I just want to thank the Tele and all the other media and social media for tremendous support, as a result of which a member of the public alerted police and he was found safely," he said.

Alliance councillor Stuart Anderson welcomed the news Matthew had been found safe.

"This is a welcome relief and will bring great comfort and joy to the Bateman family and their wider circle of friends," he said.

"This will have been a particularly worrying time for anyone who knew Matthew and his disappearance was deeply concerning.

"I must thank anyone who got in touch with the PSNI to highlight any sightings of Matthew, one of which has undoubtedly led to his safe return."

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