Search for missing British hiker likely suspended until spring, say French police

The search for a British hiker who went missing in the Pyrenees last year has been suspended and is not likely to resume until spring, French police have said.

“All possible investigations” in French territory have been carried out without any sign of Esther Dingley, police captain Jean Marc Bordinaro toldThe Times.

The 37-year-old was last seen on 22 November last year as she walked alone in the mountains near the Spanish and French border.

Mr Bordinaro said: “We have no indication permitting us to confirm the presence of Esther Dingley in France since she was seen for the last time on the Spanish side of the Pic de Sauvegarde.

“We’ll probably have to wait till spring to undertake more searches.”

Ms Dingley’s partner Daniel Colegate has said he believes her disappearance was not accidental, a thought he described as “terrifying”.

Mr Colegate had been hiking with his partner but was house-sitting at a French farmhouse on the day she was last seen.

He said earlier this month he did not believe she fallen or suffered another kind of accident, and also dismissed suggestions she could have voluntarily disappeared.

Writing on Facebook, Mr Colegate denied the idea Ms Dingley would spark a major search operation by vanishing, rather than simply telling him she needed time alone.

He said: “All of which leads me to believe that somebody else has been involved in Esther’s disappearance and against her will.

“This is a terrifying prospect and I wish I could believe otherwise, but I cannot.”

The couple, who have been together for almost 19 years, met at Oxford University and lived in Durham before they set off travelling around Europe in a camper van six years ago.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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