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Yorkshireman missing for over a year is found sleeping rough in Lapland

Nial Akin went missing in May 2020 before turning up in Kiruna, Sweden (Picture: West Midlands Police/Facebook)

A man who disappeared from West Yorkshire last year has been located nearly 3,500km away in Lapland – thanks to the help of a kind Swede and social media users.

Nial Atkin went missing in May 2020 from Huddersfield, leaving his family desperately worried and police unsure of his whereabouts.

But last Friday, July 9, a man living in Kiruna, Sweden, offered a rough sleeper a shower and a clean bed after becoming concerned that he looked disorientated.

Jerry Ahlqvist took to Facebook to appeal for help in reuniting the then unidentified homeless Brit with his family – and now believes the man is Nial.

Police in the UK initially thought the 26-year-old, who is thought to have suffered a break down, may have travelled to Scotland.

That left his mother amazed this weekend when Jerry contacted her after his Facebook post was shared widely by concerned social media users.

On Saturday, Jerry posted a picture of Nial and wrote: ‘So yesterday I found a homeless person that was acting a bit strange, he seemed confused and was just walking back and forth.

Jerry Ahlqvist offered Nial a shower and a clean bed (Credits: Facebook)

‘I brought him home and cleaned him, gave him some food and new clothes, and a clean bed to sleep in.

‘He is kind of hard to communicate with, he gets lost in his thoughts, takes a long time to answer questions and he just stares into nothing.

‘He has told me some information about himself but he ends every sentence with ‘sort of’ so the information can also be incorrect.’

Jerry later set up a GoFundMe to raise money for flights to try and get Nial home to the UK.

His post added that Nial said he is 26 and used to work in IT near Leeds, adding that he was born and raised in the area.

Nial disappeared from Huddersfield before being found in Lapland last week (Picture: Facebook)
West Yorkshire Police had issued this picture of Nial in May 2020 (Picture: West Yorkshire Police)

It continued: ‘I can’t help the feeling that his family is concerned about his whereabouts and maybe looking for him, also he is confused and he is not capable of taking care of himself.

‘Anyway he is currently in a small town called Kiruna way up north in Sweden. I think he needs some help but I don’t know what to do? Help me help him? Share and try finding his family?’

Facebook users alerted Jerry to a Police Scotland plea issued last year which sought help in finding missing Nial, then 25.

The force had asked social media users to help West Yorkshire Police trace Nial, who they described as white, 6’4″, slim, and with short brown hair and a beard.

Jerry then put a new post out which read: ‘UPDATE! We have found his mother and I have spoken with her on the phone.


Boy, 9, pens sweet letter to Marcus Rashford telling him 'don't be sad'

Boy, 9, writes sweet letter to Marcus Rashford telling him ‘don’t be sad’

‘Everything will be sorted out.

‘The thing is that Nial is in a psychotic state and he does not know what he wants or what’s best for him. But we will figure this out.

‘His mother knows and understands because she has a psychiatric education and I know and understand because I have myself gone through treatment for schizophrenia and have suffered psychosis myself so I saw the signs from across the streets.’

He added: ‘Everything will be okay and we will try to get the proper treatment for him!

‘THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR ENGAGEMENT! We did it!’

It is unclear how Nial got to Kiruna, which is far from a popular destination as Sweden’s most northern town – but is possible to get to Scandinavia from Scotland by boat.

Jerry’s actions were praised by social media users who said he had brightened their day.

Meanwhile, West Yorkshire Police confirmed that Nial had initially been located after they first appealed for help in finding them.

But explaining that they were aware of new developments in the case, a spokesman said: ‘Kirklees Police were contacted on Sunday July 11 2021 by a caller who made a missing person’s report about a 26-year-old male who was said to be missing and believed to be in Sweden.

‘Officers have now spoken with a resident in Sweden who has confirmed they have had contact with the missing person and enquiries currently remain ongoing.’

A Foreign Office spokesman added: ‘We are in contact with the family of a British man who went missing over 12 months ago, following reports that he has been located. We are providing support.’

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected].

For more stories like this, check our news page.


MORE : CCTV released in urgent search for boy, 4, missing with his dad


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