The boyfriend of missing British hiker Esther Dingley has dismissed allegations by French police that she purposely disappeared because she feared her nomadic lifestyle was coming to an end.
A spokesperson for Daniel Colegate said: ‘There is no indication Esther was seeking a new life’ as new CCTV footage emerged of his girlfriend in a supermarket before she disappeared.
Ms Dingley, 37, was last seen three weeks ago on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees after going on a solo hike.
Despite a joint operation by French and Spanish police, it is not known where she is and heavy snowfall led to the cancellation of the mountain searches.
The boyfriend of missing British hiker Esther Dingley (pictured) has dismissed claims by French police that she may have deliberately disappeared because she feared her nomadic lifestyle would come to an end
A spokesperson for Daniel Colegate (pictured with Esther) said: ‘There is no indication that Esther was seeking a new life’
Over the weekend, gendarmerie captain Jean-Marc Bordinaro, who is leading the French side of the investigation, said one theory was that the experienced hiker had deliberately disappeared.
He claimed Mr Colegate had wanted to return to the UK after getting tired of their six-year European motorhome trip.
Cpt Bordinaro said: “Esther Dingley wanted to continue with her current lifestyle, RV trips and sporting activities including hiking, while Daniel Colegate seems a little tired of his nomadic life.
“Did she want to go alone to live her life and organize her own disappearance?” Nothing allows us to eliminate this working theory. This situation caused tension within the couple, but nothing too much.
But the theory was rejected by Mr Colegate, 38, and the family of Ms Dingley, who spoke through the Lucie Blackman Trust Global, a charity that helps families of missing people overseas. .
Grainy CCTV footage (pictured) – Ms Dingley’s last recorded movements – shows her apparently asking the price of seeds with the store manager
Matthew Searle, Managing Director of LBT Global, said: “We are working very closely with the family and Daniel and there is no indication that Esther was seeking a new life. There is a lot of speculation about this matter and it is unnecessary and unfair to the family.
Mr Colegate has been questioned three times by French and Spanish police but is not considered a suspect. Ms Dingley left Mr Colegate in the French town of Gascony where he was at home. On November 15, she drove the couple’s campervan across the border to the Spanish town of Benasque, where she left the vehicle to climb the mountain range.
The police investigation is now focused on Benasque and the motorhome has been legally searched.
Ms Dingley, an Oxford graduate like her boyfriend, stayed at the Angel Orus hostel on November 17, where the owner recalled seeing her in “good spirits”.
Two days later, she was seen buying chia seeds at a supermarket. Grainy CCTV footage – Ms Dingley’s last recorded movements – apparently shows her questioning the price of seeds with the store manager.
Over the weekend, gendarmerie captain Jean-Marc Bordinaro, who heads the French side of the investigation, said one theory was that the experienced hiker had deliberately disappeared. But the theory was rejected by Mr Colegate, 38 (pictured with Esther) and Mrs Dingley’s family
A British teacher then stepped in to act as a translator and explained that the discounts were only available to people with in-store loyalty cards. Mrs. Dingley bought the seeds and a buyer later described her as “sad and thoughtful.”
The last contact Ms. Dingley made with her partner was on November 22, when she sent pictures of herself at Saving Peak, 9,000 feet above sea level. return to Gascony on November 25.
When she did not show up, Mr. Colegate sounded the alarm.
Air and ground searches have found no trace of Ms Dingley and her family fear she has been kidnapped. Due to weather conditions, the rescue effort may not resume until spring.
Cape Bordinaro said he did not believe Ms Dingley had been in an accident, been eaten by a bear or had fallen into a lake.
Ms Dingley and Mr Colegate began their journey through Europe in 2014 after nearly dying from a carnivorous bacterial infection.
Although the couple regularly blog about their adventures, Cpt Bordinaro suggested their life was not as “idyllic as the images posted on social media suggest.”