20/01/2009

Missing Teen 'Seen On Ferry To France'

A missing teenage girl has been spotted travelling on a ferry to France with a man she is believed to have met through an internet chat room.

Police believe Laura Stainforth is with a man called Robert Williams, 49, who is understood to be on police bail pending a rape investigation by Durham Police.

The parents of Laura, 15, have directly appealed for their daughter, who went missing last Wednesday to contact them.

Detectives believe she went off with Robert Andrew Williams, 49, who she met on the internet. Laura was last seen by her parents when she left her home in Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire.

It has emerged the 49-year-old lorry driver is on bail on suspicion of kidnapping and raping a 16-year-old girl from west Sussex.

Williams - who also uses the name Dave Ingram - was arrested for the suspected offences in December, Durham Police have confirmed. He is not on the sex offenders' register.

Laura's parents Debra and Robert have released a statement through Humberside Police, appealing for their daughter to get in touch.

The statement read: "Please contact us as we miss you. You are not in trouble.

"We just want to be able to see you and hug you and try and help you. And your brother misses you too."

The statement continued: "Please contact us or the police, or please let us know you are well and safe. Lots of love from Mam and Dad."

Humberside Police released CCTV footage of Laura with Mr Williams at Grimsby Railway Station on Wednesday.

Detectives believe they took a train to Doncaster, South Yorkshire, before travelling to London, and on to Dover.

A member of the public then spotted Laura in Dover the following day.

Laura is described as white, of medium build with dark brown coloured shoulder length hair in a ponytail.

She was last seen wearing a fawn and cream coloured zip up jacket with light blue coloured jeans and black coloured trainers.

Detective Chief Inspector Sharon Fielding, from Humberside Police, said: "Our main concern is finding Laura. That is why we released the details of the man we believe she is with.

"We appreciate all the calls we are getting from members of the public and each significant piece of information is being followed up.

"At this time we have conflicting information as to where she is and I am keeping an open mind as to her location.

"Although we know she was in Dover and she was on that ferry, we do not know if she stayed in Calais, travelled further into France or Europe or returned to the UK.

"We are working closely with other police forces in the UK, Interpol, the National Missing Persons Bureau, the Serious Organised Crime Agency and others.

(JM/BMcC)

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