Body found in search for missing student Richard Okorogheye

5 April 2021, 19:26 | Updated: 6 April 2021, 20:05

Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

A body has been found in a pond in Epping Forest during the search for missing student Richard Okorogheye, police have said.

Officers looking for the missing 19-year-old west London student said the body of a man has been found by Essex Police.

Scotland Yard said enquiries are under way to identify the body.

Mr Okorogheye's family are being supported by specially trained officers and being kept up to date with developments.

Police remain at the scene and enquiries into his disappearance continue.

A statement released by the Met said: "On the afternoon of Monday 5 April, the Met was informed by colleagues from Essex Police that the body of a man had been found in a pond in Epping Forest.

Read more: Police divers deployed in search for missing 19-year-old student

Read more: Missing student's mother says every day is a 'nightmare'

Police divers have been searching in Epping Forest while investigating the disappearance of Richard Okorogheye
Police divers have been searching in Epping Forest while investigating the disappearance of Richard Okorogheye. Picture: Okorogheye Family Handout

"Enquiries are under way to identify the body.

"Detectives investigating the disappearance of 19-year-old Richard Okorogheye are aware. Richard's family are being supported by specially- trained officers and kept updated with developments.

"Officers remain at the scene and enquiries continue."

Mr Okorogheye, who has sickle cell disease, left his family home in the Ladbroke Grove area of west London on the evening of Monday 22 March and was reported missing two days later.

He was last seen on CCTV in Loughton, Essex, in the early hours of Tuesday 23 March, walking towards Epping Forest.

Police divers had previously been seen in a body of water in the woodland.

Read more: 'No activity' on missing student Richard Okorogheye's phone

Read more: Police carry out searches in Essex after student’s disappearance

Initial police enquiries identified Mr Okorogheye leaving his home address and heading in the direction of Ladbroke Grove at around 8:30pm.

CCTV footage shows he was wearing all black and had a black satchel bag with a white Adidas logo, worn across his lower back.

Police said further inquiries have established that he then took a taxi journey from the W2 area of London to a residential street in Loughton.

He was captured on CCTV walking alone on Smarts Lane, Loughton, towards Epping Forest at 12:39am on Tuesday 23 March.

The Met Police previously said Mr Okorogheye's phone has not been in use since his disappearance.

Speaking to The Guardian, the 19-year-old's mother, Evidence Joel, said waiting for information on her son's whereabouts has been "hell".

She told the paper: "Every day is a nightmare for me now.

"I feel completely helpless. Helpless, and also, sorry to use this word, but I feel useless. Because I want to go out there, to do something to look for him, search for him, anything."

Ms Joel previously said that her son had spoken of "struggling to cope" with university pressures and had been shielding during the Covid-19 lockdown.

As someone with sickle cell disease, Mr Okorogheye would only leave the house to go to hospital for regular blood transfusions for his condition.