30 years on...Yvette is still missing

Thirty years after she went missing from Norfolk the riddle of what happened to Yvette Watson remains unsolved, reports Emily Dennis, who also reveals a strange reference in Yvette's diary to a man called Tobin…

She was a shy, quiet girl who, despite her troubles, had the world at her feet. But 30 years after she went missing from a Norfolk mental health clinic the riddle of what happened to Yvette Watson remains unsolved, reports Emily Dennis, who also reveals a strange reference to a man called Tobin…

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When Yvette Watson vanished in 1979 she left behind a heartrending diary, describing her hopes for the future and crying out for help in her battle with depression.

But the chapters that were to follow remain unwritten.

Nobody knows whether the troubled teenager was able to fulfil her dreams and conquer her demons because no one has seen her since the day she went missing from a Norwich clinic.

The 17-year-old walked out of the former David Rice Hospital in Hellesdon just days before she was due to return home after being treated for depression. A police hunt was launched but she has never been found.

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Her parents, Colin and Enid, who live in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, have had to try to come to terms with not knowing what happened to their daughter, who would now be 47.

Mr Watson said last night: 'We are still hoping that she will be found - but we know it's a long shot. At least if we don't know there is still hope.'

The investigation into Yvette's disappearance was reviewed by police in 1999 but detectives wrapped it up the following year saying they had 'exhausted all avenues'. The inquiry remains open.

Family friend Richard Raven, from Wrentham, near Beccles, said he wanted to keep Yvette's name in the public eye. When she was 10 years old Yvette was a bridesmaid at Mr Raven's marriage to his first wife, Tina.

He said: 'My personal view is that I hope she is still alive, which we all do. When I see someone has gone missing in the papers I immediately think of Yvette. Over the last few years I have been trying to trace her on the internet, but I have not had any luck.

'When I used to know her it never seemed like there was anything wrong at all. She had her problems but she always seemed like a normal, quiet girl. I want to keep her name in the public eye and still hope that someone out there knows something.'

Yvette's early years showed little sign of the troubles to come. Quiet and a little shy, she seemed to settle well into nearby junior and middle schools.

But by the age of 13 Yvette began to show signs of mood swings and depression. The following year she ran away from home for the first time, hitching a lift to Ipswich and finally returning with her long brown locks cut short.

The involvement of social services in 1976 brought a placement for Yvette at St Michael's in Ditchingham, a school and home which offered special help to troubled teenage girls.

She stayed at St Michael's until March 1978. From there she was admitted to the David Rice Hospital where she responded well to treatment.

By March 1979 Yvette and her parents were beginning to lay plans for her future, returning to the family home and taking a place at Ipswich College where she would train to be a nursery nurse.

But their hopes were shattered when the hospital called on March 30, 1979, to say Yvette had gone missing.

Last night Det Insp Andy Guy, of Norfolk police, said: 'Yvette was a missing person and she still is a missing person. It is still an open inquiry.

'If any significant information came to light we would follow that up. If anybody has any information or knows anything about Yvette's disappearance we would be delighted to speak to them.'


Police have dismissed as a bizarre coincidence a reference to a 'Mr Tobin' in Yvette's diary.

Excerpts from the diary which chronicle her day to day battles with depression and her desperate cries for help were published in the EDP in 1999 when detectives announced they were reviewing the case 20 years after she disappeared.

An entry on Monday March 20, 1978 - a year before she vanished - includes the intriguing phrase 'Mr Tobin phoned also'.

Some 28 years after Yvette went missing Scottish handyman Peter Tobin was convicted of the murder of Polish student Angelika Kluk in Glasgow. National newspaper reports suggest Tobin enjoyed holidaying on the Norfolk Broads.

But Det Insp Andy Guy of Norfolk police said detectives had ruled out any connection. He said that various missing persons cases in Norfolk had been reviewed in the light of the Tobin case but he said: 'What I can say is that Yvette Watson is not considered to be connected to that.'

He added: 'We are aware of her diaries and all I can reiterate is that there is nothing to connect Yvette Watson to Peter Tobin in Scotland.'

But the mystery deepened last night as Yvette's father said he was not aware of the reference in her diary to a Mr Tobin.

Mr Watson said the family did not have any friends or acquaintances with that surname and did not think Yvette had either.