“IT is killing us.”
Those are the heartfelt words of missing Sunderland man Robert Hutchinson’s loving daughter eight months on from his disappearance.
Paula Hutchinson has made an emotional plea for information to end the family’s agony.
Mr Hutchinson, who has turned 57 since he was last seen, spoke to his daughter on the morning of June 23 at his Corporation Road home, in Hendon.
Despite his car turning up since in another area of the city, he has not been seen, with detectives now treating his disappearance as a murder inquiry.
Speaking at a press conference, Paula, 31, who appeared alongside her brother Gavin Newton, 35, tearfully told the Echo: “This past eight months have been awful.
“It’s the not knowing what has happened to him which is killing the whole family.
“He’s got a lot of brothers and sisters who are heartbroken and we just need somebody to come forward and give us or the police some information. People don’t just go missing.”
Paula added that the disappearance has been particularly hard on her son and Robert’s grandson, Josh.
“He’s only eight, coming up to nine years old and I don’t know what to tell him,” added Paula, who also lives in Hendon.
“Christmas Day was hard because he usually spends all day with my dad, playing with his new toys, but we couldn’t do anything like that.
“I don’t want to have to tell him his grandad is dead, but now I just wish he could be found. And I believe in my heart that somebody does know where he is.”
Renewing calls for those with information to contact police, Gavin said: “I’d say to people, ‘think if this was one of your family members and imagine what you would be going through right now.’”
There has been no sign of Mr Hutchinson, who often drank in Charltons in Hendon, since he left his house, at 6.20pm on Monday, June 23, in his blue Nissan Micra.
The last images of him were captured on a CCTV camera at Asda in Leechmere Road two hours before he disappeared, as he was filling his car with petrol.
His car was later found abandoned in Stewart Street, just off Chester Road in Eden Vale. Police believe it was left there some time between 10pm on the evening of his disappearance and 6am the following morning.
It is not known whether Mr Hutchinson drove there himself, or if a third party dumped the car – registration CT03 0ZJ – in an area to which he has no known ties.
Police have even retraced what they believed to be his last movements near where the car was found.
Detective Sergeant Barbara McGough, of Northumbria Police, said the investigation into Mr Hutchinson’s disappearance is still very much active.
“Mr Hutchinson’s disappearance is still being treated as a murder investigation,” said Det Sgt McGough.
“Paula has hit the nail on the head in what she has said today. Somebody must have some information to assist us.
“However, there are no new developments and the trail has gone cold.
“The last sighting of Mr Hutchinson was him leaving his home address on June 23.”
Anyone with information regarding his disappearance should call police on 101 ext 69191 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.