Missing backpacker found alive in the bush

Author: By Rosa Silverman, Press Association

Mr Neale, 19, from Muswell Hill, north London, had not been seen since July 3
when he left his hostel in the town of Katoomba, New South Wales, for a walk
in the Blue Mountains.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “The Australian police have notified
British consular staff that Mr Neale has been found alive. We’re providing
consular assistance.”

New South Wales Police said in a statement: “About 11.30am today, two
bushwalkers alerted emergency services to advise they had come across a man
who identified himself as Jamie Neale near the Narrow Neck fire trail, near
Katoomba.

“Police Rescue officers, using a Rural Fire Service vehicle, made their way to
the location and confirmed the identity of the man.

“He’s been taken to Katoomba Hospital for treatment of dehydration and
exposure.”

Mr Neale’s father, Richard Cass, who had been preparing to leave Sydney on a
flight today, has been flown by Polair from Sydney Airport to the hospital,
where he will be reunited with his son, according to the statement.

A hospital spokeswoman said Mr Neale was in a stable condition at Katoomba’s
Blue Mountains Hospital.

Television pictures showed him getting out of a police car unaided and walking
towards the hospital door.

Mr Neale arrived in Australia on June 22 and checked into a youth hostel in
Katoomba on Thursday July 2.

He was last seen about 9:40am the next day.

A check of his room at the hostel revealed he had not taken any of his
belongings with him including his mobile phone and personal papers.

He booked and paid for a tour of some nearby caves for the Saturday but never
turned up.

A check of his bank and email accounts confirmed they had not been touched
since his disappearance.

A wide-ranging search was carried out, involving police from Blue Mountains
Local Area Command, the Rescue Squad, Dog Unit and Polair, the Police Air
Wing, as well as the Rural Fire Service, State Emergency Service, Volunteer
Rescue Association and National Parks and Wildlife Service, police said.

Mr Neale’s mother, Jean Neale, said she had not believed she was never going
to see her son again.

She told Sky News: “I never gave up hoping, I always knew he’d be coming home.
He’s determined and if he sets his mind to something, he will do it.

“I told all the family and his friends that he was coming home and I had no
doubts about that. That kept them strong and in turn that kept me strong.”

Her son had been tearful and exhausted when she talked to him on the phone,
she said.

“I spoke to him in hospital and he said he didn’t think he’d ever see me again
and he just wanted to hear my voice. He was nearly in tears.

“I told him ‘you don’t get rid of me that easily’.”

She said that as far as she knew, her son’s disappearance had been simply due
to him getting lost.

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