The detective leading the investigation into the murder of a Sunderland grandfather has issued a fresh appeal – five years after his disappearance.
Robert Hutchinson, 56, was last seen leaving his home in Corporation Road, Hendon, at around 6.20pm on June 23, 2014.
He left in a blue Nissan Micra, registration LT03 0ZJ, but the car was later found abandoned at the end of Stewart Street, close to Chester Road.
He was also captured on CCTV at the petrol station at Asda in Grangetown at 4.48pm.
Officers believe Robert came to harm that night and launched a murder investigation, but his body has never been found.
Today (Sunday), five years on from the last sighting, Detective Inspector Ed Small says the search for Robert’s killer is very much ongoing and appealed to the public for information.
“Five years have passed since Robert’s disappearance but our investigation has never closed,” Det Insp Small said.
“We still remain as determined as ever to find out what happened to Robert that night and bring those responsible to justice.
“Robert was well-known in the Hendon area, had a lot of friends and was close to his daughter, Paula, and son, Gavin. They have spent the last five years not knowing what happened to him.
“Our condolences very much remain with Robert’s family, and they continue to be offered any support they need from a team of specialist officers. However, not having the answers only prolongs their grief and prevents them from having any opportunity to seek closure.
“Today, I am releasing CCTV footage showing a number of individuals who were in the Chester Road area at around the same time that Robert’s car was parked up. These individuals could prove the key to finding out what happened to him that night.
“Among them is a man of similar appearance to Robert seen at the rear of the Chester’s pub at 11.05pm. The individual walks down back the road behind the pub towards Hylton Street, but after that we can’t say where he went – so are asking anyone who knows that person to get in touch.
“We still believe that the answer to this investigation lies in the local community and with local people. We need their help to find out what happened to him.
“I would like to ask anyone with information, no matter how small or insignificant they think it is, to come forward and speak to police.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact 101 or ring Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.