Carmarthenshire

Officers’ “hunch” leads to missing woman in derelict church

A PCSO and dog handler’s hunch that something wasn’t right led them to find a missing woman hiding inside a derelict church.

Llanelli Rural PCSO Sophie Jones and dog handler PC Mike Barnsley were part of a team of officers who spent seven hours searching for a woman who had been reported missing on Wednesday evening.

With support from Coastguard and Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, the operation spanned the Llwynhendy and Loughour areas as all possible enquiries were carried out to find the high risk missing woman.

Sergeant Gemma Davies said: “The woman had been reported missing by her partner at around 5.30pm, and had not been seen for several hours by that point.

“His concern was rising as she had left her phone and bank cards behind, and would usually have returned home from a walk well before then.

“We immediately started enquiries to find her.”

A search of her home address was carried out as officers looked for any indication of where the woman might have gone, and to find out if she had access to a vehicle or would be on foot. In the meantime, officers covered walking routes she is known to use regularly.

Enquiries established that the last time the woman was seen was by a neighbour at 2.45pm – three hours prior to her being reported missing.

“By this time it was already dark, and weather conditions were poor,” PS Davies said.

“Our concern was that she had been seen heading towards Loughor, and that she might have gone into the water.

“We checked all the local hospitals in case she had fallen ill or been injured in some way, we scoured fields and school grounds, the Coastguard checked areas along the edge of the estuary, but there was no sign of her.”

After seven hours, and with many officers now involved in the search, PCSO Sophie Jones and PC Mike Barnsley noticed that the gate was slightly open at a derelict church.

Thinking this looked unusual, they entered the grounds.

Sgt Davies said: “Their hunch about the open gate seeming strange paid off. They meticulously searched around the outside of the church, and finally found the woman inside the building – upset, but safe and well.

“This was a great piece of intuitive police work, and although the search involved a large number of officers who all worked incredibly hard throughout what was a very busy shift, special mention must go to PCSO Jones and PC Barnsley for their efforts.”

The woman was taken to hospital to be checked over.


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