Richard Okorogheye: Police divers deployed in search for missing student

4 April 2021, 19:14 | Updated: 4 April 2021, 23:09

Police divers have been searching in Epping Forest as they investigate the disappearance of Richard Okorogheye (left).
Police divers have been searching in Epping Forest as they investigate the disappearance of Richard Okorogheye (left). Picture: Metropolitan Police

By Joe Cook

Police divers have been deployed in the search for missing student Richard Okorogheye, as searches in Epping Forest enter their fourth day.

The 19-year-old, who has sickle cell disease, left his family home in Ladbroke Grove, west London, on the evening of Monday 22 March.

He was reported missing two days later and was last seen on CCTV in Loughton, Essex, in the early hours of Tuesday 23 March, walking towards Epping Forest.

Read more: Richard Okorogheye: Police release new images of missing student

Searches around the forest entered their fourth day on Sunday, with detectives adding they are keeping an open mind about the Oxford Brookes University student's whereabouts.

Police divers have been deployed and were seen in one of the bodies of water in the woodland in north-east London.

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

The searches around Epping Forest are continuing with support from Essex Police, but the Met said nothing of relevance had been found so far.

On Thursday, the force said there had been "no activity" on Mr Okorogheye's phone since his disappearance.

Read more: Richard Okorogheye: Police appeal directly to missing student to 'get in touch'

The Metropolitan Police issued a fresh appeal directly to Mr Okorogheye on Saturday, urging him to contact the force or someone he trusts.

In a statement issued on Saturday, Detective Superintendent Danny Gosling, head of the Met's Central West Public Protection Unit, said: "People can go missing from home for any of number of reasons. Our job is not to cast judgment but to work to find them and bring them home safely.

"My message to Richard is clear: Our only concern is your safety. You are not in trouble and have done nothing wrong.

"If you read or hear this message we would ask you to contact us, or someone you trust, to let us know you are safe. Your loved ones, and many other people who you do not even know, are very concerned.

"I would also like to thank the public for their continued support in sharing our appeals, checking doorbell and dash cam footage and passing on any information. As our efforts to find Richard continue, the eyes and ears of ordinary members of the public will be essential tools in our search."

Read more: Richard Okorogheye: Police 'increasingly concerned' for London student missing for a week

Police searches in Epping Forest entered their fifth day on Sunday.
Police searches in Epping Forest entered their fourth day on Sunday. Picture: PA

Mr Okorogheye's mother Evidence 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.

Richard leaving his home address and heading in the direction of Ladbroke Grove.
Richard leaving his home address and heading in the direction of Ladbroke Grove. Picture: Metropolitan Police

Timeline of Richard Okorogheye's disappearance

Initial police inquiries identified Mr Okorogheye leaving his home address and heading in the direction of Ladbroke Grove at around 8.30pm.

In a previously confirmed sighting on Monday March 22, the 19-year-old was seen boarding the number 23 bus southbound in Ladbroke Grove at 8.44pm.

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

CCTV footage showed Richard was wearing all-black.
CCTV footage showed Richard was wearing all-black. Picture: Metropolitan Police

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

He was last captured on CCTV walking alone on Smarts Lane, Loughton, towards Epping Forest at 12.39am on Tuesday March 23.

Anyone with information is asked to call the police on 101 quoting 21MIS008134.