Parents' anguish over missing daughter

A Norwich Union manager last night spoke of his “unimaginable pain” as police escalated their search for his teenage daughter who vanished without a trace after a night out with friends.

A Norwich Union manager last night spoke of his “unimaginable pain” as police escalated their search for his teenage daughter who vanished without a trace after a night out with friends.

Officers spent the night trawling East Anglian railway lines for any signs of Natasha Coombs' belongings. She was last seen boarding a train in Ipswich dressed in a sequinned top and ra-ra skirt at 11.15pm last Friday. There have been unconfirmed sightings of the 17-year-old in Norfolk since - but fears are growing for her safety.

Gary Coombs, a mergers and acquisitions manager with Norwich Union in Norwich, said there was no obvious reason for her to go missing. “It is pain like you cannot imagine every day,” he said.

Police say the teenager vanished about an hour after telling her parents that she was en-route to her home in Dovercourt, Essex, after a Chinese meal with two girlfriends. Natasha's phone disappeared from the mobile network in Manningtree, Essex.

Officers were today searching areas around Manningtree station in the hope of finding clues of the youngster's whereabouts and are liaising with police in Norfolk and Suffolk.

Police said they had received a report from a taxi driver who said he saw a girl matching Natasha's description in Long Stratton at about midday on Sunday. The girl asked a taxi driver for information about buses to Yarmouth. However, Natasha's family said they were not aware of any reason their daughter would be visiting Long Stratton.

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Insp Adrian Dearsley, who is leading the inquiry, said: “We are treating this as a missing person inquiry, but we are becoming very concerned and we need to find Natasha.”

Mr Coombs, 48, and his wife, Joanne, a 40-year-old a housewife, broke down as they made an appeal for help in finding their daughter. “It is so, so hard being without our Natasha. She is our only child. She is our family. She is our life. She is everything,” he said.

“We want her to know that she has nothing at all to worry about, we just want to see her and know she is okay. If she's with anyone it doesn't matter, we just want to hear from her. If anyone knows anything at all about where she is please, please tell the police.”

Mrs Coombs said: “The house is so empty without her. It's unbearable. She has so much to look forward to at the moment. There is no reason for her to go missing.”

Natasha was due to go on holiday to Toronto, Canada, tomorrow and was also excited about turning 18 on September 8. “She has already sent out the invitations. She was just so excited about that and looking forward to it,” Mr Coombs said.

Mr and Mrs Coombs said Natasha had never gone missing before and was not the type of teenager to keep her parents in the dark when she went out.

Insp Dearsley said a senior detective was heading the inquiry into Natasha's disappearance and police were very concerned. He said: “We have checked CCTV and we know she got on the train at Ipswich. Her mobile seems to have disappeared from the network at about 11.15pm on Friday. And checks show that the phone was in the Manningtree area at that time.

“We need to know if she got off the train at Manningtree and if she did what happened after that. We would urge anyone with any information to come forward.

“If anyone was on that train that left Ipswich and reached Manningtree at around 11pm on Friday and noticed Natasha or even noticed a pretty girl, they must come forward.

“Likewise we're trying to find her mobile phone and any other personal items. If anyone has found a mobile phone recently in that area we need to know, because it could provide a vital clue.”

Mr Dearsley said police were not aware that Natasha - who had started a new job as a clerical assistant about a week before she disappeared - had any personal problems.

The youngster is described as being white, 5ft 3in, slim with brown highlighted hair. She was wearing a purple sequinned top, a purple, pink and white ra-ra skirt, a white jacket and pumps.

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