Family of Scot missing in Prague call in private investigators one week after disappearance

Joop Sparkes
Joop Sparkes -Credit:UGC

The family of a missing Scot who vanished after jumping from a party boat in Prague have called in private investigators one week after his disappearance.

Joop Sparkes, from Galashiels, was on an organised boat trip with pals when he dived into the Vltava River between 1am and 2am on Sunday, April 27. The 29-year-old construction worker has not been seen since.

Devastated sister Jodie Wilson has been scouring the streets of Prague walking miles alongside Joop's girlfriend Charley Maben and his aunt Gillian. The family are desperate for answers and have now reached out to private investigators in a plea for help.

The group followed the party boat Joop travelled aboard on Friday night but there were no further clues to what could have happened to him. They also plan to watch the boat on Saturday night and continue searching the area - a week on from when he vanished.

Jodie told the Record on Saturday morning: "We're just as confused as ever. The boat seemed to be further downstream than the point it's believed Joop jumped on Friday night. There must have been about 100 people onboard, it travels very slowly, and a lot of the time it's just floating. It could only have travelled about half a mile or so. It was a very short distance.

"We still continue to walk the length of the river banks, checking out buildings, checking the homeless people who are wrapped in sleeping bags pulling clothing from the river to check if it's not Joop’s.

"Yesterday we walked 24 miles along the riverbanks and the marina. We are also checking along the boats to make sure he’s not either on or in the water nearby. We have spoken to people and asked if they have seen him, some are lovely and some unfortunately are very evil.

"We are all emotionally and physically exhausted but we've got to keep going. We just don't know what to do anymore and we need answers.

"It just doesn't seem real. We haven't seen police on the water since Tuesday and haven't has any answers so we've called private investigators and we're in discussions with them about drone searches as well as if they can bring divers in."

Police in the Czech Republic confirmed earlier this week they are carrying out enquiries.

Joop is understood to have been wearing a black T-shirt when he went overboard. There have been no confirmed sightings of him despite initial reports from a fellow boat passenger.

His family launched a fundraiser to help cover their costs while they stay in Prague and so far over £11,000 has been donated.

A spokesperson for the Police of the Czech Republic was reported as saying: “I can confirm that since early Sunday morning the Prague police have been searching for a 29-year-old foreigner who, according to the announcement, jumped from a party boat near the Charles Bridge in Prague 1 and has not been seen since.

“In the place where the missing person was last seen, several search operations took place, in which policemen from the river department were also involved, but the foreigner has not been found anywhere yet.”

A Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office spokesperson also said: “We are supporting the family of a British man who has gone missing in Czech Republic and are in contact with the local authorities.”

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