Menu

David Hardy

Who's he?

Daniel Entwistle

Daniel Entwistle was just seven when he disappeared from his Great Yarmouth home.  

Background

Daniel lived on Copperfield Avenue in Gt Yarmouth with his parents, David (41), Paula (30) and brothers Antony (10) and John (2).

He was 3ft 2in, thin, with short light-brown hair and a pale complexion. The Entwistles had moved to Norfolk from Burnley three years earlier and Daniel had a strong northern accent. Other residents in the neighbourhood said he was a very quiet boy, who got picked on a bit at the park. He adored his brother and wasn’t often seen without him. He had been diagnosed with ADHD.

Circumstances

On Saturday, May 3rd 2003, seven year old Daniel Entwistle walked to his corner shop in Great Yarmouth to purchase something for his father. He was wearing a blue Adidas shirt, blue tracksuit bottoms and grey training shoes.

Mother, Paula Entwistle, 30, who has epilepsy, was at home asleep as she felt unwell.

Daniel was last seen on the store's (Blencowe's) surveillance video at 5.02pm.

Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, he didn't appear to be distressed.

The video showed him walking up the aisle, out of the front door, and turning left, swinging the carrier bag as he did so. There are conflicting reports about what he bought. Some reports say a baby bottle, others say sweets. The CCTV shows him buying a pint of milk, reported the Gt Yarmouth Mercury.

Daniel's father, David, said he returned home, dropped off the purchase then went back out to play.

Around 7.15pm, Paula woke and realised Daniel was not home. 45 minutes later, they called the police.

Investigation

There were two unconfirmed sightings on the estate around 8pm putting him close to his home.

Security camera footage from a nearby petrol station captured a child on a bike who Police believed was Daniel (not known what time this footage was recorded).

Daniels red and white BMX bike was found half a mile from his home, propped up against the harbour wall alongside the River Yare around 3am on May 4th.

A few days later, Joseph Zugor, 67, the local Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator, came forward to say he had seen Daniel and other children playing near to where the bike was found, as they often did, around lunchtime and 4pm on that day.

A few days after he went missing, police search teams checked the coastline in the area and industrial buildings by the riverside. They searched the Pleasure Beach and questioned local paedophiles. The local school had recently warned parents about paedophiles living in the area.

Four days after he disappeared, police began using hi-tech sonar equipment to scour the bed of the River Yare to try and find him. The equipment provided 3D imagery of the riverbed and was used to map a 2 mile stretch of the river from the river mouth. The river can be up to 20ft deep.

The fire service used hydraulic platforms to search nearby garage and warehouse roofs in what the police now called Operation Canada.

Three months after the disappearance, police closed the case saying he may never be found, the assumption being he had fallen into the river and been washed out to the North Sea. The case cost Norfolk Police £300,000 and involved over 100 officers. During the enquiry the incident room had received over 1200 messages resulting in excess of 2500 actions being undertaken and 575 statements completed.

Aftermath

On 20th June 2003, Paula was staying with friends in Padiham when she spoke to the Burnley Express and admitted she believed Daniel had fallen into the water and been swept away. She blamed herself – if it hadn't have been a bank holiday weekend Daniel wouldn't have been allowed out, she said. She couldn't grieve until she knew what happened and had closure. She and David only married in November 2002, but they had been together for 10 years.

The final paragraph of the article quotes Paula as saying “So-called family in Burnley haven't helped. I want to make it clear that Daniel did not know his uncle Gordon Entwistle, who claimed he had babysat for him and I have never met Cath Entwistle, who has claimed to be his concerned auntie.”

On 7th July 2003, David was arrested for breaching an injunction banning him from seeing Paula or visiting the house which had been imposed on Friday 4th July. Paula had apparently been told that David had a previous conviction for a sexual offence committed on an 11 year old girl.

The Lancashire Evening Telegraph from 1986 confirms these offences. There were four defendants. One of those co-defendants had been Gordon Entwistle (19).

The conviction was confirmed by the Sunday People a few years later after they made an application to Preston Crown Court. A document released on the orders of a judge said: “David Entwistle was upon his own confession convicted upon indictment of sexual intercourse with a girl under 13 years on March 26, 1987, at the Crown Court at Preston. He was sentenced to six months.” Entwistle's estranged father-in-law Keith Dutton told the Sunday People: “It is important this is finally coming out. People should know the truth about David.” At the time of the original disappearance, Norfolk Police had allegedly threatened Mr Dutton with arrest if he disclosed these convictions to the public, probably something to do with the Data Protection Act.

On Wednesday 7th January 2015, David was found dead at his home in Lowestoft. Police said the death was non-suspicious.

Coincidentally, on the same date as Daniel disappeared, but four years later, Madeleine McCann went missing in Portugal.

Questions and Theories

Fallen in the river? The most likely as far as the police were concerned. To be honest, the most likely to me too. If Daniel had been playing on the sea wall he could have easily slipped in.

But, Daniel was afraid of water and could not swim. So would he have gone near it? It seems unlikely he would have been there on his own.

Also, the wall here is roughly 3 foot high and two foot across with a 15-foot drop into the river. Daniel was just two inches taller than the wall. Would he have had the strength to pull himself up onto the top of it? Maybe he used his bike as a step. Or was helped up. If he was helped up, that person would likely have been there if Daniel fell in.

Did he fall in, or was he pushed? A local has said he was shy and often picked on. Was he being bullied? But, would a child have been able to live with that guilt and keep quiet?

If he had gone in the river, fast tides can drag a body inland or out to sea for several miles along the coast. But he would likely have washed up somewhere and why wasn't anything picked up on the police sonar just a few days later?

Run away? He had ADHD, so couldn't keep still and would have been prone to sudden actions so he may have run off. But, he wouldn't have been able to go far and was known around town due to the publicity of his disappearance. With the Police searching all the local buildings he would surely have been found.

Abduction? We've since learned of his father's conviction, which, perhaps naturally, points the finger in his direction. Rumours are, the father was friendly with two gay men who had a penchant for young men and later committed suicide. Some locals also say the father was out drinking the day after Daniel disappeared. There is nothing to substantiate those claims though.

And, just because somebody has a conviction for underage sex with a girl when they were a young twenty-something, doesn't mean they would harm a young boy, especially their own son.

But why was it only after Paula awoke that they became worried. Where was dad, why hadn't he become concerned earlier? The sunset that day was 2022 so it would probably be getting darker and chilly by 7.

Paula had previously said the whole family went shopping earlier that day which would possibly contradict what Zugor of Neighbourhoodwatch said about seeing Daniel at lunchtime. How early was early in the day? Did police manage to confirm this? Maybe she was lying, or Mr. Zugor was mistaken. An elderly man may not recognise individual children when they are playing in a group but he did say he knew Daniel and he was a 'nice little kid'. Or was he providing a cover story for the father?

The docks had a steady flow of boats, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that he was dragged onto a ship and was then taken out to sea. He wouldn't have gone willingly, as a quiet, shy boy I'm sure he would have been wary of strangers.

Locals have told me about a bonfire in a back garden on the street in the early hours of the next morning. Were police aware and did they examine the remains of this? But a garden bonfire wouldn't be hot enough to completely dispose of a body, would it?

Summary

This is a very sad case with no closure for the family, which they hope to get one day, one way or the other.

Being a convicted paedophile, father was obviously a prime suspect. Speaking in the Burnley Express in the early days, dad David said he was saved from committing suicide by a friend. Was it the distress that made him want to end it, as he claimed, or the guilt?

It seems most likely Daniel went into the river. But I feel sure he would not have been by the riverside on his own, so somebody is hiding the secret of what actually happened.

Contact

If you know anything about this case please contact the Norfolk police Cold Case Squad on

01953 42 3819 or Email: unsolvedcasereviews@norfolk.pnn.police.uk

Alternatively, you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111

Or, if you don't feel you want to speak to them you can contact me in strictest confidence.

Contact Me

Unique Visits

188519

Area map