Family of Anthony Knott speak of devastation after police find body

‘We’re heartbroken’: Family of missing firefighter and father-of-four Anthony Knott, 33, speak of their devastation after police find a body in the River Ouse three weeks after he vanished on a night out

  • Body believed to be Anthony Knott, 33, has been recovered from River Ouse at Newhaven, East Sussex
  • The father-of-four, 33, disappeared on December 20 after going to Lewes pub
  • His family said his story had ‘touched the hearts of thousands of people’

The family of a missing firefighter say they are ‘utterly devastated and completely heartbroken’ after a body was found on Friday.

The body of a man believed to be Anthony Knott was recovered from the River Ouse at Newhaven in East Sussex, police said.

The 33-year-old father-of-four, from Orpington, disappeared on December 20 after going to a pub in Lewes with colleagues.

The family of missing firefighter Anthony Knott say they are ‘utterly devastated and completely heartbroken’ after a body was found on Friday 

In an emotional statement his family said his story had ‘touched the hearts of thousands of people’ and thanked everyone who had helped in the search. 

Mr Knott left The Lamb in Fisher Street at around 7.16pm and was captured on CCTV approximately half an hour later walking nearby.  

Large-scale searches were carried out in an effort to find Mr Knott in the weeks that followed, with Sussex Police deploying boats, dogs, drones and helicopters.

Lucy Otto and her fiancé Anthony Knott, a 33-year-old father-of-four from Orpington in Kent

However, on Friday police announced that a body believed to be Mr Knott had been recovered after a member of the public called Sussex Police.

In a statement posted on Facebook, Mr Knott’s family said: ‘We are utterly devastated and completely heartbroken.

‘Anthony’s story has reached out and touched the hearts of thousands of people.

‘We would like to thank everyone for your incredible support, shares, posters, volunteers and donations.

Mr Knott was seen walking along Market Street towards The Lamb at 7.41pm on December 20

‘The people of Lewes, we will be forever grateful for your support & understanding during our searches.

‘These three weeks have been so very hard for us all.

‘We now want to take some time as a family to grieve and as I am sure everyone will understand, to respect our privacy for this time.’

Detective Inspector Mark Rosser said: ‘Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Anthony at this difficult time.

‘We too are saddened by this update and would ask the public and media to respect the family’s privacy at this time. 

‘We would like to thank the public for their tremendous support with our investigation into the disappearance of Anthony, along with our partner agencies and volunteers who assisted with the search.’

Police carried out extensive searches on foot and in the River Ouse for 12 days, but called them off on January 1. 

Mr Knott had been on a work night out with 12 fellow London firefighters, and police said there was nothing to suggest he had left the town.

Sussex Police divers are pictured combing the River Ouse in the hunt for missing firefighter Anthony Knott who disappeared from a pub in Lewes on December 20 

Speaking last week, his fiancee Lucy Otto told Sky News: ‘I just feel numb… it’s very strange. It’s the not knowing, it’s terrible. I don’t understand how someone can just walk out a pub and disappear.

‘There’s no eyewitness statements, there’s not much CCTV, there’s nothing really to go on. And to be gone for this long, I just don’t get it, I just do not understand it. 

‘I know the weather was really bad that day and there was bad flooding, I don’t know if he’s tried to come home and come across some water and hurt himself. But there’s been search and rescue teams looking for him.’

She added that they had been ‘really excited’ for Christmas and had been looking forward to ‘fun, family time’.

She called for anyone in the vicinity of the pub to contact police with any details they can remember.

In a direct message to her fiance, she added: ‘If… you’re worried and you’re thinking, ‘Oh I can’t come home, this is too big now’, honestly, you don’t realise how many people want you back regardless of the situation you left in – if that is the case. So just come home, please just come home.’

London Fire Brigade Commissioner Andy Roe, said: ‘I’m saddened to hear the news about Firefighter Anthony Knott. All our thoughts remain with his family, friends and colleagues. This is understandably extremely difficult for Firefighter Knott’s family and I ask that we all respect their privacy.’

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