Mystery remains over disappearance of 11-year-old boy, 50 years on
PUBLISHED: 10:53 30 August 2019 | UPDATED: 08:50 31 August 2019
He was 11 years old when he vanished, and for decades his fate has been one of Norfolk's greatest mysteries.
But now, on the brink of the 50th anniversary of his disappearance, police are hoping there might yet be answers for the family of Fakenham schoolboy Steven Newing.
Steven was the oldest of four children who lived with their mum Jean on Lee Warner Avenue. He was reported missing at about 10pm on September 2, 1969.
A major investigation was conducted at the time of Steven's disappearance. His home was searched, along with surrounding areas of the town.
But despite a widespread hunt, he has never been found.
Police said Steven had no reason to have run away from home.
On the evening he disappeared, he was seen by a friend walking on his own near the junction of the A149, close to the Hindringham turn-off.
Police said that there was another "significant potential sighting" at Sutton Bridge, Lincolnshire.
A man working for a circus which was in the area at the time was also interviewed as a potential abductor.
Inquiries carried out at the time and since have so far drawn a blank.
But Andy Guy, cold case manager at Norfolk Police, said they hoped this major anniversary might bring about the answers Steven's family so desperately needed.
He said: "It is now half a century since Steven went missing and during this time we've received many different leads and pieces of information about his disappearance. Despite thorough investigations, we still don't know what happened to Steven.
"His mother Jean sadly died five years ago, never knowing what happened to her son. Steven's two sisters and brother are still hopeful of finding answers and we are determined to find closure for them.
"I strongly believe there are people alive today who may know what happened to Steven and we would always pursue any new credible information which could help us solve this mystery."
Steven's mother died on the day before the anniversary of his disappearance, in 2014.
Speaking to the EDP in 2013, then aged 77, she said she still thought of her freckle-faced "mischievous" boy every day.
At a celebration event to mark the 10th anniversary of the opening of Steven Newing House in Fakenham, which houses and supports vulnerable 16-25-year-olds, she said: "I think of his cheeky little freckled face and the way he always used to get up to mischief, whether it was falling off his bike, falling out of a tree or having his teeth knocked out by a football.
"I still very much want to know what happened to him. At my age I don't know that I'll ever know the truth but I feel it's important for me to find out."
Mrs Newing still remembered the day her son went missing from his home on Lee Warner Avenue.
She said: "It was the school holidays and he was playing with a friend. He said he was going to his friend's house for dinner.
"The last thing I said to him was 'don't be any later than 8pm'. When he wasn't back by 9pm I called the police and have never seen him since."
Police never close their files and so-called cold cases are regularly reviewed for new lines of enquiry.
A spokesman for the Benjamin Foundation, which runs Steven Newing House in partnership with Flagship Housing and North Norfolk District Council, said that more than 280 young people had been through the doors since it opened.
They said Steven's mother "drew real comfort" from visiting the centre and would buy Christmas presents for children being helped every year.
The spokesman said: "It was a dreadful shame when she passed away but we still have that link with the Newing family and they are really proud to have that association with Steven Newing House."
- Anyone with information on Steven's disappearance should call Norfolk police, on 101
A brother's pain
Steven's brother Terry has urged the public to come forward.
He said: "It is now 50 years since my brother Steven disappeared at the age of 11 from our home in Lee Warner Avenue, Fakenham.
"I was the last person to see him and there is not a day goes by that I do not think of him and try to work out what happened.
"The effects have this have been profound on all our family. Our parents have since died without knowing what happened and Steven has an extended family who never met him, only knowing of him from newspaper cuttings and hearsay.
"However, I still believe that even with the passage of time the answers we need are there, and would urge anyone with any knowledge of his disappearance, no matter how trivial or insignificant, to please contact the police so that we can do something our parents were unable to do, lay him to rest, and get the closure we need."
How the mystery unfolded
The schoolboy has never been found despite a full scale investigation into his disappearance.
Steven was born on April 15, 1958, in Blackpool but was living with his mother in Lee Warner Avenue in Fakenham when he went missing on September 2, 1969.
A full scale investigation into Steven's disappearance was launched, which included house to house enquiries and interviews with family and friends.
Steven had left his pedal cycle at home and had no money with him.
His satchel was found at a water tower near his home.
Although there were many potential sightings of Steven at the time of his disappearance, including in King's Lynn and the Sutton Bridge area of Lincolnshire, nothing significant has been discovered.
It is hoped the 50th anniversary of his disappearance might yet provide some information which could help solve the mystery half a century on.