AN INQUEST into a Dewsbury man who disappeared 19 years ago has officially concluded that he is dead.
Now the family of Bruce Gapper, who hasn’t been seen since 1999, want answers and have made a fresh appeal for information.
Assistant coroner Oliver Longstaff obtained special permission from the chief coroner’s office to hold the inquest, because Mr Gapper’s body has never been found.
The case has prompted regular appeals for information from Kirklees Police over the years, to no avail.
Mr Gapper, who was 40 at the time, disappeared from his home on Groves Hall Road, Dewsbury Moor, nearly 20 years ago – but nobody has yet been able to figure out what happened to him.
His disappearance was labelled ‘uncertain’ and ‘mysterious’ by Mr Longstaff.
Bradford Coroner’s Court heard that his car was found burnt out at Castle Hill, Huddersfield, on the morning of Monday March 15, 1999.
His bank account had been emptied at three separate cash machines.
Mr Gapper was a driver with the Dukes Transport firm and hadn’t arrived at work that morning.
His sister Wendy Dixon told the court how he’d been married twice but at the time of his disappearance spent most of his social life at the Batley Frontier nightclub, where he had been a bouncer.
She described him as gullible and said that “he lent money to so-called friends which had gone wrong.”
Mr Gapper had loaned £2,000 to his friends Nicola Whitworth and her partner Leo Hepworth. They were later arrested on suspicion of murder but denied any involvement and were released without charge.
Detectives said that he didn’t kill himself, nor was there enough evidence to say that he had been unlawfully killed.
Mr Longstaff recorded an open conclusion, saying: “At the moment all I can conclude is that Mr Gapper is dead.”
Mrs Dixon said after the hearing: “I just feel sad really. It has been a long time to have the information that he has passed. It does give us some sort of closure. I still believe there are people who may know something. I would ask that they come forward.”
Supt Mark McManus said that the case remains open and police “want to bring closure and justice for Bruce’s family and to try and locate his remains.”