Among the Nettles

Like many people who live, (or in Mr R’s case, grew up) on the Isle of Wight, the name Damien Nettles has long been known to them. But tragically for all the wrong reasons.

For those who remember him, it carries more weight. It is a constant reminder of one of the greatest mysteries of the Garden Isle. They are tormented trying to work out what happened to their sixteen year old Son, Brother, Relative or Friend.

Mr R was one year and three months younger than Damien Nettles when he first became aware of him at High School. One year and three months is a big gap in high school life. Damien was the cooler, older kid.

He reminded Mr R of Damon Albarn of Blur fame. And that was a very agreeable compliment in the mid nineties.

R remembers this tall, confident chap walking around the school with his girlfriend. He particularly remembers passing them as they kissed near the vending machines one day. R stared at the embracing couple. He wanted to be like this older guy, with a girl in his arms. The pair came up for air and saw the young Mr R gazing at them. They smirked at him, and he hurried off embarrassed.

This was Mr R’s last memory of Damien.

A short while later this young man was to go out one evening and never return.

Mr R remembers the gossip going round the School. Did he run away?, Was he taken?, Did he commit suicide?.

At the time Damien disappeared the young Mr R had just joined a band.

He remembers sitting in the School Music room with his band mates during a rehearsal. It was a dark November night, a week or two after the young man vanished. Mr R was drawing patterns in the condensation on the window with his Drum Stick.

Suddenly a one of Damiens friends walks in.  ‘Hi Guys. We are organising a concert for Damien. Are you guys up for playing?’

Now eighteen years on Mr R can not remember the reason that his band did not play at the concert for Damien. Perhaps they were not ready? or perhaps one of group was away? He remembers not.

For everyone else, life moved on. The gossip and theories became less and less talked about, but certainly not forgotten.

Mr R being older and wiser now knows that for some people that torment must have been unbearable, and to this day still continues.

Mr R became acquainted with J, Damien’s younger brother during the summer of ninety seven. He was younger than Mr R. He talked about his brother when asked, but Mr R always sensed J was putting on a brave face, and was not comfortable with being ‘The missing kids brother’ that everyone wanted to quiz.

The puzzle of the disappearance played on the young Mr R’s mind from time to time. As R grew older, some of Damien’s old friends came into Mr R’s circle. If things had been different perhaps he and Damien would have become friends?

There was talk of Damien trying to get a place in a band and it not working out. For a brief moment Mr R wondered if he got the place instead. But he doubts this was the case now.

Mr R eventually left school, moved on to Music College, travelled to the far east, and started his career and adult life in London. He had girlfriends come and go, he attended parties, he even played in a band and toured parts of the UK and Europe. He got married and bought a house.

His fellow Islander, and the friend he never made was not so lucky. Mr R  feels he stopped at Sixteen, and is probably still somewhere on that Island.

Mr R does not claim to be psychic, but he always had a sense of fear and foreboding for a particular area in the village of Gurnard. He doesn’t know why, or remember when it started, but he always suspected Damien may be there, or something happened there. The place is the copse next to Winding Way.

winding 2

One day in Summer Ninety Seven, Mr R and his friends S and S were messing about in the said Copse. They probably accessed it from the beach, but he can no longer remember. But he does remember them coming across a big black bin bag full of green leaves and stalks.

‘It’s just tomato plant bits’ said S.

Mr R, and the other S, looked further, and sniffed at the bag.

‘Err no! this is weed!’ was the delighted realisation from S.

The trio realised, that this was the off cuts, and had been dumped by someone who had stripped all the ‘good stuff’

However, they knew that there was bound to be something they could salvage and smoke later on, so they carried the bag back to the home of S, and set to work dividing the bag between themselves.

Each took a portion home to be dried in the airing cupboard over the next day or two.

The friends told their pals about their great find, and the salvaged dregs were enjoyed over the next week or so.

Years later Mr R just thought of these events as a silly teenage episode, and the memory was hardly ever played back.

But one day he got curious to see if there had been any more updates on the disappearance of Damien Nettles and came across this blog –

The text and images below are directly from the blog, and not the words or thoughts of Mr R.  


What do we (Damien’s family) do now?

We are faced with another unsubstantiated rumor. At the time of writing this blog, we have not had any confirmation one way or another from the Police that this has any truth at all. But we (Damien’s family) need to get this off our chest.

Damien’s family has been advised that one individual, who is due to become a father himself, confessed to two separate people that he was there the night Damien was buried. But so far, after this information was provided to police, nothing has happened, and nothing communicated to us.

This person confessed that he helped bury Damien and was sobbing in the chalet the day Damien was being buried. It was overheard by a witness that they heard someone slap this person, as though it was across the face. This person was sobbing so loud he could hardly get his breath and the same thing happened when he was telling the second witness.

Coincedence that there is a “D” carved 
on a tree in the area where Damien was 
reported to be buried?

When the bedroom door opened in the chalet on the day Damien was buried, this person was sitting on the bed. He remained in the chalet when the other people involved, went to the house Damien was stored after he was murdered. He had been put in a sail bag and transported to the chalet so that he could be buried in the corpse in Gurnard.

Damien had a camera the night he was murdered and it was put in a “Rabbits” fruit bowl before he was buried.

If this was you, please come forward. We know it was you, we will make sure that this information comes out, one way or another. It will benefit you, and the witnesses and the other people involved to just come forward now.

Meanwhile we continue to investigate ourselves, to find out what happened to Damien.


Mr R is not sure, but he believes the images in the blog entry above are the very same Copse that has always given him a sense of unease.

And the same Copse in which he found that bin bag full of Cannabis off cuts.

R discovered that the Nettles family suspected that Damien had fallen foul of a local drug dealer who had decided to teach him a lesson.

Suddenly the discarded Canabis waste in this Copse had a different meaning to the thirty something Mr R. Were other items, and indeed a person also being discarded in this dark and eerie Copse?

Mr R discovered that there had been new information given to Police, and suspicion regarding Chalets in Marsh Road were investigated.

Surely R thought, this fits his suspicions about that Copse. Marsh Road is right next to ‘The Luck’  a small inlet full of boats. It would be easy to take a boat round to the beach where the Copse begins undetected at night. Or three people could move a large sail bag with no questions being asked along the Beach at low tide. Especially as there is a Sailing Club near by. Mr R’s head whirled at the possibilities.

Over the years, many theories have been put forward.  – He jumped in or slipped into the Sea on the way home. He was lured onto a boat and taken away. But Mr R feels that the answers are on the Island, and probably in Gurnard or Cowes.

Personally he feels that Damien was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Perhaps he met by chance a guy who offered to sell him some Cannabis and he went back to this persons house. Somehow an argument broke out, he was attacked and accidentally killed?

Maybe he got all the way home as reported here –  “There were reliable sightings until about midnight, the last possible one of him was near the end of our road at about 12.30am but he never made it home.” He could have met a drug dealer that he owed money to. Someone he knew in the local area, and was not afraid to go to into his house at 12.30am. Perhaps he was lured in to be given a lesson. That lesson got out of hand, and he was quickly buried in a panic.

Mr R does not think it was a pre meditated murder, but he does feel that there are people out there who know the truth, and he urges them to release Damien’s family from the torment that they must live through each and everyday. And to let them lay him to rest properly.