Esther Dingley’s boyfriend Daniel Colegate has been quizzed for a third time as cops go through social media accounts
THE boyfriend of missing British hiker Esther Dingley has been questioned by investigators for a third time as cops trawled his social media accounts.
After speaking with Daniel Colegate, 38, police said the couple's life appeared not to be as "happy as the images posted on social media suggest", though stressed he was quizzed as a witness, not a suspect.
Esther, 37, from Durham, set off on a solo trek in the Pyrenees on November 16, but has not been heard from since she sent a mountain-top selfie to Daniel on November 22.
She had been due to return on November 25.
Police have said that, if she were in the mountains, they would expect to have found her by now, and that they are exploring options besides a mountain accident.
Speaking to MailOnline, Capitaine Jean-Marc Bordinaro, who is leading the French part of a Franco-Spanish investigation, said: "We interviewed Daniel Colegate at the farmhouse where he is living in the Gers department on Monday.
"We want to investigate all possibilities. We do not rule any line of inquiry.
"But it does not seem probable that Esther suffered an accident, and it is not credible that she was eaten by a bear or that she has fallen into a lake.
"We went to see Mr Colegate so that we could go through social media with him – messages etc.
"It appears that their lives together were not as happy as the images posted on social media suggest.
"However I would like to stress that we interviewed Mr Colegate as a witness not as a suspect."
At the time of Esther's disappearance, Daniel was reportedly at a French address three hours away.
In contrast to their French counterparts, Spanish police have said they still believe an accident to be the most likely explanation for Esther's disappearance.
Sources close to the investigation told local outlet Heraldo de Aragon that the accident theory remained central to the case and was the “most probable” scenario.
Sergeant Jorge Lopez Ramos, who led an eight-day search for Esther, said his teams would return to the peaks where she was last seen once the snow currently covering the ground cleared.
"It’s where with most probability she should be and although we’ve looked at that area well, we want to be sure," he said.
“It wouldn’t be the first time a mountaineer appears in a place which has already been searched well without success."
FAMILY 'IN BITS'
It comes after a local dog walker said she saw somebody sleeping in the back of Esther's campervan – which she left in a car park before beginning her trek – ten days after she vanished.
The disappearance is considered particularly strange because Esther was an experienced climber trekking in good weather and on a well-defined route.
Speaking to the Mirror, her aunt, Elizabeth Wolsey Morgan, said: “She’s a strong girl and the thing is, the longer it goes on, you wonder has she been kidnapped?
“If she had an accident they would have probably found her. I feel like I’m living a nightmare. Her father Henry is broken.
"She’s his only daughter. He’s in pieces.”
The last people thought to have seen Esther during her trip are Spanish Olympic skier Marti Vigo del Arco and his girlfriend, fellow skier Lydia Iglesias.
The couple said they were making their way down a mountain trek at around 3pm on November 22 when they met an English woman still on the ascent.
They added that they didn't see anyone else coming up the mountain after the encounter.
Around an hour later, Esther sent a selfie from the summit of the Pic de Sauvegarde to partner Daniel.
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