Forensic Tests Solve Feet Mystery

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Gwent Police have identified a mystery pair of feet washed up on the banks of the River Severn almost a year ago.

DNA testing was used to discover that the feet belonged to missing hospital patient Damien Allen, who was 24.

Mr Allen, of Cwmbran, south Wales, disappeared in July 2001 and is believed to have jumped into the River Usk at Newport.

The feet, in blue and white trainers, were discovered by a fisherman at Sudbrook, near Chepstow.

There had been speculation that the feet were those of missing Manic Street Preacher Richie Edwards, who vanished without trace almost eight years ago.

They were found on a riverbank near the spot where Richie Edwards' car was found abandoned.

The family of the missing Manic Street Preacher, who live in Blackwood, Blaenau Gwent, have been told of the latest development.

The band's bassist Nicky Wire believes the guitarist will never be found.

"If he is dead there's going to be nothing left," he said, after the disappearance.

"And 90% of missing people never make contact again."

Last March, detectives established that the blue and white Diadora trainers were sold in 2001.

The discovery ruled out any connection with Mr Edwards, who went missing in February 1995 as the band were about to embark on a US tour and on the verge of becoming a household name.

The trainers were found by fishermen. They first spotted one shoe and, on looking closer, saw a sock and bones inside.

They called Gwent Police who searched the area the following morning and found the matching trainer, which also contained the remains of a foot.

Detectives liaised with the Missing Persons Bureau in London, and examined all relevant reports of disappearances.

[Originally published: bbc.co.uk/news/wales, 12 January 2003]