The mother of a north-east schoolboy missing from home since Saturday has made an emotional appeal for his safe return.
Alix Smith spoke to the Evening Express about the shock her family has suffered since her 16-year-old son Liam failed to return home at the weekend.
Police are urging anyone who has seen the Westhill Academy pupil to get in touch, and say he took a bus to Lumphanan on Saturday afternoon and officers were to search there today.
Ms Smith said: “We are all in a state of shock and numb.
“It’s a living nightmare. We just want to know he’s safe.
“His friends and family are deeply concerned for his wellbeing as this is out of character.
“I’m not sure what else we can say.
“Our brains are not working properly.”
Officers first appealed for help in tracing the teenager on Saturday afternoon when Liam had not been seen since he was spotted in the Queen’s Road area of Aberdeen at noon.
Police made a breakthrough yesterday afternoon when they tracked down CCTV images of Liam at McDonald’s on Union Street, in Aberdeen, on Saturday at just before 12.30pm.
Liam bought food there before walking to Union Square and boarding a Stagecoach 202 bus just before 1.15pm.
A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “Inquiries can now confirm Liam boarded the 1.11pm 202 bus at the bus station in Aberdeen and disembarked at Lumphanan at 2.44pm.
“Officers are urging anyone who was on the bus and saw Liam or who lives in the Lumphanan area and may have seen him to get in touch with police on 101 using reference number 1302 of 18 November.”
She added that police inquiries will focus on the Lumphanan area today.
Ms Smith said: “Liam’s a very popular lad at Westhill Academy, and well known around Aberdeen as he’s played for many football teams, including Banks o’Dee, Dyce Boys Club and Culter Boys Club.
“We just want to know he’s safe and get him home.”
Liam, who also attends Pure Gym at Rubislaw, is described as white, 6ft 4in and of slim build.
He has short brown hair and, when he was last seen, was wearing a dark top, blue jeans and Nike Air Max trainers.
Liam is also understood to be carrying a camouflage North Face backpack.
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Inspector Jackie Knight said: “Given the passage of time his family is naturally becoming increasingly concerned for his welfare.
“We are asking that if anyone saw him on board the 202 bus on Saturday they contact us.
“We just want to make sure he is safe and well as soon as possible.
“I would also appeal directly to Liam that if you are reading this you contact police to let us know you are okay.”
She added: “Inquiries are ongoing with the bus company to establish where and when Liam got off the bus but we would urge anyone who saw him on the bus or has seen him in the Deeside area to contact police on 101 using reference number 1302 of November 19.”
Chief Inspector Neil McDonald added: “Taking this bus journey is out of character for Liam.
“We’re not aware of a particular reason for Liam to take that journey.
“It would be unusual as far as we know but we’re looking at any links or connections to that area he may have.
“We would appeal for anyone who would have seen anyone matching Liam’s description to get in touch.
“He is particularly tall for his age and that may make him stand out.”
Ch Insp McDonald added: “We’ve got officers supporting Liam’s family at what is a very difficult time for them and we will keep offering that support.”