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MISSING SOLDIER FAMILY'S AGONY.

Byline: CHRIS HAINES chris.haines@walesonline.co.uk

THE devastated family of a Welsh soldier who has been missing for the past four days described his disappearance as "the worst thing that can happen to anyone".

Eighteen-year-old Josh Thomas, originally from Neath, went missing in the early hours of Wednesday morning after a night out with friends in Kent.

Police officers were said to be growing increasingly concerned about Josh, who was last seen outside the City Wall pub in Rochester.

Josh - a soldier at Brompton Barracks on Dock Road in Chatham - was then captured on CCTV at about 1am, walking over Rochester Bridge and into Corporation Street.

Josh's family and friends have this week taken to social networking website Facebook to appeal for information about his whereabouts.

They hit back at suggestions on Kent Police's page that Josh had gone Awol - or absent without official leave.

Responding to the unfounded messages from members of the public, his cousin Kara Louise Bowman said on Facebook: "We know he would never go Awol, he loves the army. It's his everything.

"This is a high risk missing persons case.

"He went missing after a night out. If he was going Awol, he would not of got drunk to do it.

"This is serious and we need to find him.

"It's cold and wet out and Josh could be anywhere."

Josh was described as white, about 5ft 9in, of slim build and with short dark brown hair.

He was wearing a dark blue Lyall and Scott jumper with a white and red collar, grey jeans, and white Converse trainers.

Kara, a carer working at Powys County Council, added: "We miss him so much. We are all devastated! It's the worst thing that could happen to anyone.

Can only hope."

Josh's friend, sapper Joe Mahon, left a message on the "Support the British Army" Facebook page, saying: "Hope to see you back at camp safe and sound mate."

Kara encouraged everyone to share police appeals for information on the social networking website, saying: "Thanks to all my friends who have shared the appeal pages and pictures of Josh!

"It's all so appreciated ... we just want to find him safe and well!

"Please keep sharing as the more that are aware, the better the chance of finding him! "Thank you all."

Ali Evans, from Kent, was among hundreds of concerned members of the public to leave messages of support on Facebook.

She wrote: "The thought of an 18-year-old missing in any situation makes me feel sick.

"At 18, he is far from grown up so let's hope he gets the help and support he needs and realise that nothing is insurmountable, ever."

| Anyone with information about Josh should call police on 101, quoting reference 10-0243, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 14, 2013
Words:471
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