A TWO-YEAR search for a missing man believed to be in Eastbourne reached a sad conclusion this week when his family was told his remains were found by a French trawler nine months after he disappeared.
Piers Hopson, who suffered from autism and struggled to communicate, vanished from his home in St Leonards in January 2010 and his family ran a high profile appeal and offered a reward to try and find him, believing he may have got the train to Eastbourne.
But it was only this week that the DNA of 35-year-old Piers was matched to remains found by a French fishing vessel nine miles off the coast of Newhaven in September 2010.
Parents Roger and Dawn Hopson said, “Piers was a very focused man but he left an impression on everyone he met. He loved music and walking and was fascinated by the meaning of words.
“When something caught his attention, his enthusiasm for it knew no bounds.
“We shall miss the way he would bound into the room talking non stop about his latest interest, a sheaf of paper in one hand and a pencil in the other; how he would commandeer the newspaper over breakfast not realising that someone else might be reading it.
“Everything he did, he did with good humour.”
Sussex Police said skeletal remains were found by fishermen on the French trawler Sancta Maria, which was fishing off the coast of Newhaven.
The fishermen reported the find to the French police and two weeks later the French Police contacted the Maritime Coastguard Agency in Southampton about the bones.
Four months later the information was passed to the Hampshire Constabulary Marine Unit, which then informed the International Liaison Enquiry Team (ILET), also based in Hampshire.
ILET liaises with the National Missing Persons Bureau (NMPB) asking it to complete a search against their databases. ILET asks whether DNA could be obtained from the bones.
But it then took from January 2011 to April 27 2012 before a DNA profile arrived from France via Interpol and is sent to the NMPB.
Finally Sussex Police were notified on June 25 that the profile matched Piers.