A HEARTBROKEN mum has slammed the “vile” internet trolls who have defiled the name of her missing son.
Scott Fletcher, 28, was last seen a year ago today and his family have been locked in 12 months of misery hoping that he will return.
But their grief has been compounded by disgusting comments on social networking sites about Scott.
Crass rumours about him being murdered and dumped in a river have added to the family’s suffering.
Today, as Scott’s family gather to support each other through the day, his mum Julie hit out at people who have speculated on his disappearance.
Julie said: “We have heard all of the rumours. People have been on Facebook saying he has been murdered and dumped in the Mersey. Some of the stuff people say is vile, there is no other way to describe it.
“It makes me sick to the stomach. These people do not have any true information, so they make things up.
“But over the last year, we have become stronger. It’s like I have had to become thick-skinned, develop a shell if you like.
“While the vast majority of people have been hugely supportive, the rumours haven’t helped and we have had to learn to ignore them.
“I cannot believe it is a year to the day since I last saw my son.
“It is very painful, very distressing and very hard. It doesn’t get any easier, but we have to stay strong and hope that he comes home.”
Julie, who lives with husband John in the Bishop Cuthbert area of Hartlepool and works at St Hild’s CofE school on the Headland, was given information from one contact who suggested Scott had been buried in Helmsley forest.
“We couldn’t rest after hearing that,” Julie added.
“On Scott’s birthday, me and John drove up there, and just walked around the forest. We walked and walked, just looking. We felt we had to. We’ve been up there several times.
“We’ve driven around Durham, past the house he used to rent.
“Every time you hear something on the news about a body being found, no matter where it is, your heart sinks. But the police have been brilliant, and they ring us up as soon as they possibly can and say ‘it’s not Scott’.
“Scott is on our mind every minute of every day. When I’m sitting at home, I look out of the window and every time a young lad walks by, I wonder if it is him. I check every car that drives past in the hope he will be in it.”
Scott, dad to Lucie, five, and stepdad to seven-year-old Bradley, has missed a host of family landmarks in the last year including his daughter’s birthday, her first day at school and Father’s Day.
While Julie admits it is “heartbreaking” answering the childrens’ questions she says they are determined to stay strong for the sake of the youngsters.
She added: “Lucie said to me just the other day ‘I think it’s about time my daddy packed his suitcase and came home’.
“Lucie does get upset about not seeing him. He took the kids everywhere, he loved family occasions.
“This has affected us all, we all have trouble sleeping and we’ve all been to the doctor. I throw myself into work, but then lie awake at night talking and asking questions, just wondering if we can come up with an idea of where he could be.
“Today, with it being a year, we’ll all be together as a family, making sure nobody is on their own.
“He has to come home, we won’t give up searching for him. The police have prepared us for the worst news, and we have to be realistic and understand that is a possibility.
“If I did get that news, I honestly do not know how I would cope.
“But until I get that news, I won’t give up hope.”
Scott was last seen at around 8.20pm in the lay-by opposite the Jet garage on the A181 at Wheatley Hill.
The search for Scott has extended to the Durham, Cumbria and Liverpool areas, as it is believed he has connections there.
Detective Chief Inspector Jon Green, from Hartlepool Police, said: “With the first anniversary of Scott’s disappearance approaching, his family are increasingly desperate for him to come home and we are still very concerned about his whereabouts.
“One year on, we are still encouraging any members of the public with any information at all, even if it is the tiniest scrap of information, to come forward and speak to us.”
● Anyone with information regarding Scott’s whereabouts is asked to contact Det Chf Insp Green on (01642) 302110 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.