Belfast Telegraph

Police to look at drone images in missing man hunt

By Chris Kilpatrick

Police are set to examine images taken from an unmanned mini-plane after the equipment was deployed for the first time in a missing person search in Northern Ireland.

The drone, operated by the Sky Watch charity, was used in the Ramore Head area of Portrush yesterday morning.

It was used in an attempt to assist in the search for 24-year-old Dean Patton from the town who has been missing for over a month.

The drone searched the coastline just after first light, and at low tide, video recording high definition images from three different altitudes.

It also recorded 100 metres out to sea, cliff faces and cliff ledges.

The images have been handed over to police in Coleraine for analysis.

Dean's uncle Gerry said Dean's parents, John and Linda, are “devastated” by the situation.

He has hailed the help offered by Sky Watch in trying to find Dean. The input of the charity to the search operation came about by chance.

Sky Watch's Paul Trimble was staying in Portrush with his family over the weekend.

He was aware of the hunt for Dean having followed the case in the media.

Paul discovered Gerry was staying in a caravan site in the town and went to meet him and offer the charity's services.

Sky Watch has been operating elsewhere in the UK for 10 years.

“I brought Sky Watch here about two years ago and it has taken that time to get it fully established,” said Trimble of the charity.

“The drones are totally different to military drones. Our drones are thousands of pounds, the military ones are hundreds of thousands of pounds,” he said. “We can fly 24/7 in almost all weather except dense fog. So, when the police air support unit is grounded due to low cloud, we can fly. That's where the benefit is.”

Dean was last seen wearing a black T-shirt and blue jeans and is described as being around 6ft tall with dark hair and a tanned complexion.

Detectives are still appealing for members of the public who may have seen Dean in the Eglington Lane area of Portrush on Tuesday, July 24 or who may have any information that could assist with their inquiries, to contact them.

Police will revisit the Ramore Head area on Tuesday to continue their investigation. Leaflets and posters with information on Dean will also be handed out in the Eglington Lane area.

Belfast Telegraph

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