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Helicopter and boat join Hamilton search for missing man

Helicopter and boat join Hamilton search following new information

10 December 2013 - New information received from the public today has seen the Police operation to locate an Australian tennis coach, missing in Hamilton since Saturday night, focus on the Waikato River.

Waikato Field Crime Manager, Detective Inspector Karl Thornton, said two members of the public contacted Police today in relation to media coverage of the search for 38-year-old Melbourne man, Paul Arber.

"Two people walking home from the CBD over the Waikato River towards Hamilton East via the Victoria Bridge on Bridge St about 4am on Sunday looked down and noticed a man in the river.

"Walking down from the bridge to the river bank the pair have talked a man in shorts out of the water who told them his name was Paul and he was in Hamilton for a tennis tournament. The pair offered to take him back to his accommodation but after he has gone with them up to the bridge he has changed his mind and walked off, back to the river."

Mr Thornton said one of the challenges for not just Police but Mr Arber's family, who have flown to Hamilton from Australia, is that he had been exhibiting behaviours best described as being out of character shortly before he disappeared.

"There was not any one thing that caused specific concerns but such behaviours present a challenge for searchers trying to map out possible behavioural patterns which could assist us in finding Paul.

"As a result of this morning's information we will look at searching the Waikato River and its banks again and are currently awaiting the arrival of the Auckland based Police Eagle helicopter."

Mr Thornton said while these matters were under consideration it was important that those involved in the operation maintained an open mind and continued to search other areas and the public still have a major role to play in this phase.

"What we're asking is that the public continue to contact us with possible sightings, we don't know if Paul has moved away from the area and where he may have gone to so it's very much a case of dealing with a man who remains unaccounted for who may need your help.

"So we need people to discuss the issue with friends and relatives, not everyone we know follows the media and it may be someone you know on social media for instance, who may have seen something but doesn't know about Paul's disappearance."

That theme of a vulnerable person needing the public's help was one echoed by Mr Arber's family.

Parent's Sam and Richelle have arrived in Hamilton from Australia and said the most worrying thing for them was that there son, alone in a City he is not familiar with and where he knows no-one, may be in need of their help.

"Paul is described by his parents as a gentle, spiritual person who is harmless towards other people. That's why, like any mother, Richelle is imploring anyone who may have information on Paul's whereabouts, even if it's just something that seemed out of place, to get in contact with Police."

"Paul is described by them as a vegan and also will only drink bottled water so it may be that you see someone looking like they might be in distress, possibly with fruit or bottled water- that could be Paul so please, ask if they're OK and make the call to Police."

Mr Arber is described as a male Caucasian; of slight build about 179cm tall with short dark hair.

At the time Mr Arber went missing he was wearing a grey tracksuit with a tennis logo the left breast of the top and the WILSON tennis logo on the left shoulder of the top however when the people encountered him in the water he was wearing only dark shorts.

Any information that may assist in locating Mr Arber can be provided to investigators by contacting the Hamilton Police Station on 07 858 6200 or leaving details at the mobile Police station situated on Grey St in Hamilton East.

Alternatively, information can be left anonymously with the independent Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

ENDS

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