'Someone is sheltering our missing Leigh' - Dublin teenager's distraught family
A Dublin teen who has been missing for more than six weeks has contacted his family - but gardai still don't know where he is.
Authorities are worried about the welfare of Leigh Leech (16), from Coolock, and say he is being housed by someone who "thinks they're doing the right thing".
It is understood the teen - who ran away from home - has been in contact with his family sporadically since going missing on July 3.
Insp Brian Whelan, of Lucan Garda Station, told the Herald that gardai have serious concerns for Leigh's safety and well-being.
Despite making contact with his parents, both the Leech family and gardai have no idea of Leigh's whereabouts, although it has been confirmed that he is not staying with relatives or friends of the family.
"Any child who is missing for that length of time, we'd be particularly concerned," Insp Whelan said.
"We have good reason to believe that he is in the country.
"He has been in contact on an occasional basis with his family," he added. Leigh has contacted his parents by phone.
"He has run away and we are concerned that somebody is giving him shelter," Mr Whelan said.
"They might believe that doing this is in his best interest and be well-meaning in their efforts, but we would appeal to anybody who is providing him with shelter or putting him up in a home, to consider the welfare of Leigh.
"His welfare is paramount. Consider that he is a child and has a family at home that are extremely concerned and worried for him," Insp Whelan added.
The teenager's family are understood to be distraught and sick with worry.
Leigh was last seen on Ormond Quay in Dublin city centre. Gardai are searching the Coolock area, in particular, as part of their investigation into Leigh's disappearance.
However, they are not limiting their searches and are also searching nationwide.
"We don't know where he is at the moment, but we will follow up leads that we are investigating," Insp Whelan said.
"People are coming forward with information, and we're grateful for that, but there has not been enough information so far to lead us to where Leigh is," he added.
Leigh is 5ft 8 inches tall, and has short dark brown hair, blue eyes and is of average build.
When last seen he was wearing a blue jacket, grey hooded top, grey tracksuit bottoms and black runners.
It is not the first time this year that Leigh has gone missing. Gardai appealed for information on his whereabouts in March.
A social media sharing campaign was set up at the time to help find the teenager.
Anyone who has seen Leigh or who can assist in locating him is asked to contact Ronanstown Garda Station 01 6667700, the Garda Confidential Line 1800 666 111 or any garda station.