Missing Edinburgh Uni academic dead, says sister

Fergus McInnes has been missing since September. Picture: Hemedia

Fergus McInnes has been missing since September. Picture: Hemedia

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THE sister of a Scottish scientist who vanished four months ago in Switzerland has said that she now believes he is dead.

Lorna McInnes, 41, saw ­Fergus McInnes shortly before he took a flight to Geneva on 9 September last year to attend a ­conference.

The Edinburgh University ­academic, who has written about battling depression, was last sighted ­buying a return ticket to the Alpine town of Matigny, but he did not check into his hotel, ­appear at the conference held at the Idiap Research Institute or board his return flight to Scotland. Posting on a website dedicated to the ongoing search, Ms McInnes said that Christmas had been a “strange” time for the family, but she also said she now accepted that he was dead.

Ms McInnes wrote yesterday: “When my dad first told me, some time ago, that he had come to the conclusion that Fergus must be dead, I couldn’t agree with him.

“It was only a short time after Fergus had gone missing, and I was of the opinion that he could still come home. That’s what I wanted to believe, and I felt there was a definite possibility that it could happen. Now that we’ve been through Christmas and New Year, I feel the same as my dad.

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“I can’t speak for other ­members of the family, or ­anyone else who knows Fergus, but I believe that Fergus can no longer be alive.

“In writing this, I don’t wish to upset or discourage anyone else, because each of us must make up our own minds about the situation, but perhaps to try and ­explain why my dad and I feel the way we do.”

Ms McInnes added: “It is pretty well inconceivable to me that Fergus would choose not to be at home at Christmas.

“He always enjoyed this time of year, the ­excitement of giving and receiving presents, eating together, and going for walks on crisp frosty days.

“Even at his lowest point in 2009, he was at home and ­willing to join in the festivities as well as he could.”

She said that the family now wanted to find what had ­happened to Mr McInnes in order to achieve some closure.

Ms McInnes added. “The Swiss police have not been able to trace him in the area where he’s believed to have gone missing.

“It is, as we’ve mentioned ­before in these updates, mountainous and difficult terrain.

“Anyone meeting their end in such country could certainly disappear without trace, and the longer time goes on, the less ­likely it is that any remains would be found. What we want, indeed what we feel we need in order to carry on with our lives, is some sort of evidence of what happened to him.

“Uncertainty of this magnitude is difficult to live with on a daily basis.

“Perhaps that’s why my dad and I have come to the same conclusion.”

Mr McInnes, is a former Cambridge maths student and a research fellow at Edinburgh University’s Centre for Speech Technology Research. His past research has included human-computer interfaces, and the evaluation of automated ­telephone services for BT.

Online, Mr McInnes lists his interest and hobbies as croquet, organising walks over the Pentland Hills and further afield, and “changing the world”.

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