Man missing from Sidmouth since 2005 ‘presumed dead’

Edward Greathead went missing in November 2005 at the age of 41

Edward Greathead went missing in November 2005 at the age of 41 - Credit: Archant

The case has finally been closed on a man who went missing from Sidmouth in November 2005 after a High Court judge declared him presumed dead.

Edward Greathead, 41, disappeared from his sheltered accommodation in May Terrace and, despite widespread publicity and searches by family members, Beer Coastguard and the police helicopter, he was never located.

He had formerly lived in Kilmington with his parents, Peter and Monique, but moved to Sidmouth in May 2005.

Peter Greathead has now obtained a court declaration that their son is presumed dead.

Judge Paul Matthews told the High Court: “It cannot be easy for any parent, hoping against hope that a long lost child will one day be found alive and safe, to ask the court to in effect snuff out that hope.

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“I extend my sympathy to Mr Greathead and the rest of his family on their loss and hope that the making of this declaration will assist them in moving on with their lives.”

Edward was a hard worker and had an active social life, but suffered from clinical depression and had undergone extensive psychiatric treatment.

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The court heard: “He sometimes spoke of suicide as being the only solution to his problems. He contemplated, if not attempted, suicide on at least five occasions.”

He took no clothes with him and left behind his wallet, passport, bank cards, mobile phone and even his glasses.

In icy winter conditions, he would not have been able to get far on foot and money in his bank account had remained untouched, the court heard.

Judge Matthews said: “If he had simply wandered about, then collapsed and died from exposure, his body would most probably have been found by now.

“The obvious possibility is that he went into a local river and his body has been swept out to sea, but of course there are others.”

Judge Matthews ruled that it was ‘more likely than not’ that Edward died soon after his disappearance.

He concluded: “It is right that the court should make a declaration that Edward is presumed to have died on the day that he disappeared.”

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