‘We are at our wits end’ Patton family*HEADLINE TO G0 HERE

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The family of a Portrush man say they are wracked with anguish as the search for him approaches its third week.

Dean Patton was last seen in his home town of Portrush on Tuesday, July 24.

The 24-year-old has not been in contact with either his friends or family since.

Extensive searches of land and sea have taken place since Dean went missing but his family still have no idea what happened to the popular and outgoing young man.

Dean’s uncle Gerry Patton said the family are “at their wits’ end” with worry.

“We just have no idea where Dean is,” he said.

“His mum and dad aren’t eating or sleeping. It’s a living nightmare.”

Clothing was discovered washed up on the shore at Portrush on Thursday but after being examined by family members was found not to be Dean’s.

His father John said that he has been amazed at the number of people who have been helping in the search for his son.

“I’m astounded by the way Portrush has rallied round,” Mr Patton said.

“Everyone has come together to try and help find him.”

Dean’s mother Linda said it is not in her son’s nature to disappear without contacting his family.

“He hasn’t phoned anybody since either,” she said.

“It’s totally out of character. It’s just not like him.”

Dean moved from his parents’ home to his own property, also in the town, last month.

Mrs Patton last spoke to her son on Monday, July 23 before she headed off to work.

She said that she didn’t sense anything unusual or untoward from the conversation.

Mrs Patton added that her son is extremely popular and well-liked throughout the north coast.

“He has a lot of friends and nobody has a bad word to say about him,” she said.

“He has a true circle of friends,” she added.

“He was at a party on Monday night, but we know his best friend last spoke to him on Sunday.”

Mrs Patton said that Dean’s father John and his 14-year-old sister Stefanie are both deeply concerned for his welfare and desperate for his safe return.

Asked what her message would be to anyone who knew of Dean’s whereabouts, Mrs Patton said: “To contact anybody with whatever information they have, no matter how small they think it is.”

On land, searches of derelict properties and outhouses have been conducted by the Community Rescue Service.

Dean is described as being around 6ft tall with dark hair and a tanned complexion.

He was last seen wearing a black T-shirt and blue jeans.

Police have appealed for information regarding his whereabouts and have urged local residents to check sheds and outhouses at their properties.