The brother of missing Scarborough hiker Kieran Chapman admits he’s now just waiting for his body to be found.
The 38-year-old has been missing for 22 days, and North Yorkshire Police is now understood to be scaling down the search.
Despite suffering with a heart condition, his brother Steven this weekend hiked the hilly moors where he thinks Kieran is in a desperate bid to find him.
But after police dogs, divers and teams of up to 50 officers failed to locate him, Steven admits: “My own personal opinion is that we are waiting for a body.”
The crushing admission comes just days before Kieran was supposed to join his family for the festive period.
“My mum is hanging onto any hypothesis - she’s desperate for him to turn up for Christmas,” added Steven.
“He’s supposed to be spending time with his mum and sister over Christmas and he was supposed to buy the fresh food for Christmas dinner with his nephew.
“It is difficult to accept, I don’t want to think (he is dead) but I can’t help but think he’s wandered off the beaten track and something has happened.”
Last week Scarborough inspector Mike Fenton publicly re-issued an appeal for clues in the search.
It followed stern criticism of North Yorkshire Police’s handling of the case from Kieran’s family who said their confidence in the force was at “rock bottom”.
Among several allegations, Steven said the force rejected help from Catterick Garrison’s army officers because there would be too much red tape.
A North Yorkshire Police spokesperson claimed the army wasn’t needed as it had “sufficient resources” to conduct the initial searches, which included two mountain rescue teams.
However following a face-to-face meeting with police top brass, Steven has now praised the police for their efforts.
“They obviously felt the public perception was they didn’t care but I think they do,” said Steven.
“They have pulled out all of the stops.”
Initially officers spent three days scouring a 3,000sqm space surrounding Kieran’s red Volkswagen Polo in Harwood Dales before scaling back the operation.
Following his brother’s criticisms, the force upped the search. Around 50 officers at a time searched for Kieran, while forces such as Durham and Humberside Police loaned resources.
The Ministry of Defence is even understood to have assisted, while police have carried out checks into his background and searched his computer for any clues to his disappearance.
But after over three weeks of looking, hope is rapidly fading that Kieran will be home for Christmas.
At the weekend, Steven set off on a search with family, covering the routes he felt the experienced and ambitious hiker may have walked on his ill-fated expedition.
He encountered difficult boggy terrain along the route, adding: “It was like looking into the night sky, seeing millions of stars and not knowing where to look.”
The family’s main hope now is their belief Kieran embarked on a hike on November 29, several days before he was reported missing.
“I just hope someone, somewhere may have seen him then and can give us some hope.”
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