Mystery as vulnerable student goes missing at bird sanctuary

Simon Bristow and Paul Jeeves

THE parents of a vulnerable student whose car was found abandoned at an East Coast beauty spot fear he may have been lured there by someone else.

A large-scale sea and land search for Russell Bohling was launched after his green Renault Clio was found in the car park of the RSPB nature reserve at Bempton Cliffs, near Bridlington, on Wednesday.

The 18-year-old, who has a speech and language disorder, was in an upbeat mood when he said goodbye to his parents at 8am on Tuesday and left home for Bishop Burton College, near Beverley. He never arrived.

Instead the car was driven to Bempton, where a parking ticket was bought on Tuesday morning and displayed in the window. Mr Bohling has not been seen since.

His parents, Roger and Christine, are at a loss to explain why he went there unless it had been arranged by someone else.

Mr Bohling, who had never missed a day of college or stayed away from home before, only passed his driving test in January and is unlikely to have known where the bird sanctuary was.

He had asked to borrow a satellite navigation system on Saturday but is not thought to have known how to set it.

His father said: “He is an 18-year-old boy who has got no interest in bird sanctuaries. He bought a pay and display ticket and I think he has intended to come home and something has then happened. We can’t help but think some sort of foul play has happened to him, otherwise we can’t understand why he hasn’t contacted us.

“He went to meet somebody there because it’s not a place he would go.”

Mr Bohling, 57, said Russell’s condition may have made him vulnerable.

He said: “He has a speech and language disorder he has had since birth and he doesn’t always fully understand what people are saying to him.

“He can say ‘Yes, all right’, without really understanding the impact of what somebody is saying to him, so that makes him vulnerable because he could go along with something not really understanding what was happening.”

He added: “As parents you can’t help fearing the worst. We wondered if someone had programmed the sat-nav.”

Mr Bohling, of West Ella, near Hull, spoke of the anguish the family were going through along with their other sons Nigel, 23, and 21-year-old Andrew. “Life just stops.”

The search along the coast is continuing and involves mounted police, underwater search units, the coastguard and a search and rescue helicopter from RAF Leconfield.

Insp Kevin Hepworth, of Humberside Police, said: “Given the area and the amount of people who use the area it’s likely someone may have seen him or come across something that would be of value to the search for him, and we would ask them to contact us as soon as possible.”

Searches are also continuing for two other teenage students from Yorkshire who have gone missing in recent days.

Jonathan Havron, 18, of Huntington, York, also a student at Bishop Burton, was last seen in the city’s Lowther Arms in Cumberland Street early on Saturday.

Leeds University student Matthew Wilcox, 19, of Wickersley, Rotherham, has not been seen since Friday last week when he left the Mission nightclub in Leeds city centre at about 3am.

n Anyone with information about Mr Bohling’s disappearance should call 0845 6060 222.