Biggest search in force history

Kate Prout

Biggest search in force history
The Citizen
6 February 2010

It was a missing person search which soon turned to a murder inquiry.

Everything Kate possessed was left behind at Redhill Farm. Her keys, car, passport, money, bank cards, handbag, shoes and clothes remained as they were when she was last seen on November 5, 2007.

A total 2,200 councils, police forces, the NHS, and government departments have no record of her existence since that day. She has not touched her £700-a-month teacher's pension.

She kept in regular touch with her family, placed flowers on her parents' graves, and made a note of family and friends' birthdays so that she would not forget to send a card.

But police could not find any evidence of her existence continuing after November 5. Newly released pictures from the police of their home show a farmhouse full of home comforts and a feminine touch; from satin bed covers to a Welsh dresser full of china and pictures of animals on the wall. Kate loved her pet dogs.

On November 14 Gloucestershire Constabulary launched one of its biggest searches for a missing person in its history, calling in specially-trained search officers from other forces to help to comb the 276-acre Redhill Farm and surrounding area.

Bound by the M50 motorway, the A417 and the River Leadon, the search area covered a radius centred on the farm of 1.5km to 2km.

Up to 50 search officers, including some from Gwent and West Mercia forces, went over subdivided sectors of the search area at least twice with broomsticks and specially-designed probes.

A sniffer dog called Eddie, which took part in the hunt for missing Madeleine McCann, could not find any trace of her either.

The area was photographed from the air to try and identify recently-disturbed ground, a pile of woodchips and a grain store were searched.

The grain was removed to another site by tractors and trailers and put back once officers were satisfied her body was not in the grain store.

Avon and Somerset police divers searched two ponds at the farm, while Thames Valley police frogmen trawled a reservoir used as a water source for a garden centre, north east of the farm.

Vehicles at the farm, including Kate's Mitsubishi and Mr Prout's Jaguar were forensically examined, as was the farm house.

A forensic biologist was called in to carry out a more detailed examination but no blood was found, DS Christopher Ellis told the trial on January 21. He said there was also no sign of forced entry.

Operation Texas, as it was known, saw a huge desk-based hunt for her too - thousands of organisations were contacted as to Kate Prout's whereabouts and of the 2,000 who replied, none had records of her.

Those included Interpol, the UK Border Agency, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, DVLA, local councils, Land Registry, TV licensing, the NHS, dentists, private healthcare providers, utilities, mobile phone operators, Ebay, social networking sites, charities for the homeless and loyalty card organisations.

She was also marked down as a "watched passenger" by the UK Border Agency.

But all this soon pointed the finger of suspicion at her husband.

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