The family of a missing Belfast teenager has been left distressed by false rumours, a senior police officer has said.
A huge search operation has been taking place this week for 14-year-old Noah Donohoe, who was last seen in areas close to the Shore Road on Sunday evening.
Police believe he may have fallen from his bicycle in north Belfast and hurt his head.
PSNI superintendent Muir Clark emphasised the operation is still a missing person inquiry, adding rumours to the contrary have been “unhelpful and distressing to the family”.
He issued a specific appeal for a number of personal items belonging to Noah.
“We have not yet found his khaki green Northface coat, grey sweatshorts and a green backpack containing a Lenovo laptop and a copy of the book, Twelve Rules For Life by Jordan B Peterson,” he said.
“We need to find these outstanding items. If anyone has found any of these items and not yet come forward, please contact us immediately.”
Mr Clark thanked all those involved with the search effort, particularly members of the public, but urged them to allow police and the community rescue service “some space to ensure we have covered every possible area”.
He also revealed Noah’s school, St Malachy’s College on the Antrim Road, is among the locations to have been searched.
“We have a number of hypotheses which we will continue to look at, the first, that we are majoring on at the moment is that Noah has in some way suffered an injury and is disorientated and requires assistance,” he said.
“We don’t discount any other scenario, we should look at other scenarios and we will continue to do that until we find Noah.
“It is still not entirely clear why Noah went to that area of north Belfast. We continue to look at a number of avenues that will allow us to firmly establish why Noah was in that area of north Belfast.”
Noah was earlier described as “personable, good-humoured and very kind”.
The tribute came in a statement from St Malachy’s College, which also said the school community is praying for his safe return.
The statement described the teenager as a “most valued and popular member of our Year 10 group of boys”.
“Noah is an industrious and intelligent academic and immerses himself in the extra-curricular life of the college through music and sports,” the statement reads.
“As a talented cellist, he is a member of various ensembles within school.
“Our sports coaches describe Noah as a personable, good-humoured and very kind person who displays impressive competitive and athletic skills on the sports field.
“The entire college family continues to keep Noah and his family in our constant thoughts and prayers.”
The search area was expanded on Thursday from towards the Antrim Road to Belfast city centre.
Officers have recovered his bicycle, helmet, trainers and mobile phone, and have been searching a densely wooded area which he was reportedly heading towards.
Mr Clark said: “This behaviour is completely outside Noah’s character.”
He added: “I need to know that all the outbuildings, all the places Noah could take refuge in, have been checked.”
There has been a massive community response, with hundreds of volunteers coming forward to help search for Noah.
His mother Fiona said she had been overwhelmed by all the support.
She added her heart was broken.
“I am begging people do this,” she continued. “I know I am asking a massive thing but if you knew my Noah, he was the most thoughtful, loving darling who does not deserve to be suffering or unfound.
“Please hear my plea, I am speaking for Noah – my baby.”