Police searching for schoolgirl Danielle check van sightings

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The Independent Online
A van at the centre of the hunt for the missing teenager Danielle Jones had been seen in the area on at least two previous occasions, police said yesterday. </p>On both occasions teenagers, mainly girls, were seen talking to the male driver of the blue van, according to Joanne Nyland, 32, a neighbour of the Jones family. Ms Nyland said she had noticed the van in February and at the end of May. </p>After police announced more than a week ago that a witness had seen a girl matching Danielle's description getting into a dark blue van, Ms Nyland told an officer making inquiries of her suspicions. Police said yesterday they were acting on her information. </p>When Ms Nyland first saw the van, three girls were talking to the driver for about 15 minutes. She said: "The blue transit van was an R or an N registration and the man driving it had dark hair. It had some writing on the outside for some kind of interior decorating. We were voting in February for the local elections and my mum took me in the car because I was on crutches. We were parked next to it. We did not pull away when we left as I did not like the look of it. As we reversed out I wrote the number plate down." </p>Ms Nyland said the van was parked in Coronation Avenue, and the driver was talking to three teenagers, aged about 16, from St Clere's School in Stanford-le-Hope. Danielle is a pupil at St Clere's, but she was not among the three. </p>On the day of her disappearance, Danielle was last seen further along Coronation Avenue, nearer to her home, on her way to catch the school bus. </p>Ms Nyland saw the van in Coronation Avenue again at the end of the May Bank Holiday. She said: "I was convinced the driver was a drug dealer ... when I saw it again my suspicions were raised."</p>Ms Nyland has lost the piece of paper on which she had written the registration number but police will check for indentations left by the original note.</p>