Police have stopped looking for a schoolboy who disappeared more than nine years ago after concluding he is now probably dead.
Robert Williams, 15, of Resolven, near Neath, South Wales, has been missing from home since March 2002.
His devastated mother has now been told by police that her son "most likely" died some time over the last nine years.
She made a last desperate plea today for anyone with any information about her son's disappearance to come forward.
Failure to find him follows the conclusion of a year-long case review and exhaustive missing person investigation.
It included an age progression photograph created for the police to highlight how Robert might look today aged 24.
"Over the past year we have revisited all potential lines of inquiry, over 100 further witness statements have been taken and we have also carried out extensive proof of life inquiries which have all proved negative," said Detective Inspector Mark Lewis, of the South Wales Police Specialist Crime Investigation Team.
"In addition we have searched the national fingerprint and DNA databases, checking medical records and contacting a large number of organisations in the hope that Robert may have been linked to them since his disappearance.
"As a result of these inquiries there is tragically no evidence that Robert Williams is alive and I have now informed Robert's family that the most likely outcome is that Robert has died some time over the past nine years."
He added: "Robert's mother Cheryl is naturally devastated by this news and is asking through this media appeal for anyone with information about Robert's disappearance and likely death to come forward and provide any information they know.
"Every day since Robert's disappearance has been a struggle and traumatic for Cheryl and her family. She is pleading with the public to help provide her with closure and end this nightmare that she has had to endure for over nine years.
"All outstanding missing person cases remain open and if any new evidence came to light then we would fully investigate it."
South Wales Police can be contacted on 01792 562 732 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.Reuse content