Family of kayaker missing for eight years say they won’t get closure until his body is found

Missing kayaker Shane Smith.
Missing kayaker Shane Smith.

The mother of a kayaker missing for more than eight years insists her family will not have closure until her son’s body is finally recovered.

Pearl Smith was speaking after the formal opening of an inquest into Shane Smith’s death in 2010.

Distraught mother Pearl Smith with a poster of her missing son in 2010.

Distraught mother Pearl Smith with a poster of her missing son in 2010.

Shane, 30, of Dawdon, vanished on April 22 after his kayak capsized around 400 yards off the coast at nearby Seaham.

While the kayak soon surfaced, searches by the emergency services failed to locate him and Mrs Smith believes his body is probably trapped underneath North Pier.

Legislation allows coroners to declare a missing person dead if their remains have still to be found more than seven years after their disappearance.

A full examination of the tragedy’s circumstances will take place in the New Year after Friday’s short hearing was adjourned.

Speaking after the inquest’s opening at County Durham and Darlington Coroner’s Court, Mr Smith, 61, also of Dawdon, said: “This will not bring any relief to the family.

“We won’t have closure until we have a body and can have a funeral.

“What answers can an inquest provide to us without one when we know he is still out there somewhere?”

Emergency services patrolled the surrounding coast for 48 hours after Shane’s disappearance with searches resuming around a fortnight later when clothing believed to belong to him was washed up.

His mother and her family initially held a daily vigil and quickly distributed posters along a vast area of the coast stretching from Blyth, in Northumberland, down to Whitby, in North Yorkshire, in the hope that someone may have seen him.

Mrs Smith, who battles against a range of illnesses including chest and lung problems, added: “We still go back to the scene on the anniversary in April, on his birthday in December and at Christmas.

“We haven’t had a funeral service and we haven’t had a memorial service although we are thinking about having a memorial service if it gets to 10 years without him getting found.

“Hopefully it won’t come to that.”

Unemployed Shane was also survived by partner Wendy Jobs, her daughter Chantelle Jobs, dad Guy Smith, 67, brother Philip Smith, 35, of Dawdon, and sisters Tracy Smith, 32, of Hartlepool, and Kimberley Smith, 28, of Sunderland.

Mrs Smith said: “The whole family miss him. He was a lovely lad who would do anything for anyone and we just want to give him the funeral he deserves.”