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Man, 49, held on suspicion of murdering teenager Gaia Pope

The suspect is said to be from the Swanage area and is assisting police with inquiries.

A 49-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murdering missing teenager Gaia Pope.

Detectives have been carrying out a major search for the 19-year-old, who vanished from the Swanage area of Dorset on the afternoon of November 7.

Dorset Police announced the suspect, who is believed to know Miss Pope, was arrested on Thursday afternoon.

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A police team searches a mill pond in Swanage (Jennifer Cockerell/PA)

The suspect arrested on Thursday is said to be from the Swanage area and is assisting police with inquiries.

Earlier police found clothing similar to that worn by Miss Pope when she disappeared, following a tip-off from a member of the public.

It was discovered at 10.28am on an area of open land north of the coastal path near Swanage.

The owner of the clothes has not been identified but Miss Pope’s family have been informed, Dorset Police said.

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(Andrew Matthews/PA)

Dorset Police have been carrying out forensic examinations of two properties in the Swanage area, as well as searches of land around the town.

The force released two CCTV images of the teenager taken inside St Michael’s Garage in Swanage when she bought an ice cream.

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CCTV still of Gaia Pope (Dorset Police/PA)

Gaia was being driven between Langton Matravers and Swanage by a family member when they stopped off for fuel at around 2.55pm.

The last confirmed sighting of Gaia was at an address in Manor Gardens on Morrison Road in Swanage at about 4pm.

The black jacket Gaia was wearing in the CCTV images was recovered from an address in Manor Gardens. Three vehicles have been seized.

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(Andrew Matthews/PA)

Forensic investigations are continuing at two properties in Manor Gardens, which are believed to be the homes of a 71-year-old woman and a 19-year-old man.

They were released under investigation on Tuesday after being arrested on suspicion of murder by police the previous day.

Asked why the suspect has been arrested on suspicion of murder, Detective Superintendent Paul Kessell said: “As you would expect, we have been conducting this inquiry for two weeks and it is our responsibility to investigate every avenue of inquiry that’s open to us.

“In doing that, we continue to investigate whether Gaia has come to harm through an act of crime or whether she is missing and we will continue to do so.”

He appealed directly to the public to come forward if they have any information or have had any contact with Gaia since she went missing.

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