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Dog walker claims someone was asleep in hiker’s van 10 days after she vanished

A dog walker claims she saw someone sleeping in what she believes was missing Esther Dingley’s camper van ten days after the British hiker disappeared.

Esther, 37, vanished last month while trekking alone in the Pyrenees, on the border between France and Spain.

She has been travelling around Europe in a Fiat Chausson camper with her partner, Daniel Colegate, for six years.

She is understood to have last contacted her boyfriend on November 22 and was reported missing three days later.

Dog walker Lucia’s claims that she spotted someone asleep in a Fiat Chausson van at about 7pm on December 2 while she was taking her dog, Tipo, for a walk in Benasque, Spain.

Lucia said she became worried when she saw the figure laying down in the back of the camper when she went out to check again at 10pm.

She told Mail Online: “I saw someone sleeping in the back of the caravan car and I couldn’t believe it.”

“Everyone in Benasque knows about the missing English girl. And I knew that was her van. It is the only camping car that is British.”

Lucia first saw the light on in the camper van at about 7pm and said it seem a bit “strange”.

She then took her dog out again at about 10pm to have a closer look at the camper, describing how she saw someone asleep in the back of the van.

She said the person wasn’t moving and was “lying quite still”.

Lucia snapped a photo with her phone and called the Guardia Civil (Spanish police), who, she said, were “not interested” and didn’t send anyone to look at the van.

Esther and Daniel have been together for 18 years after meeting when they were both at Oxford University.

Six years ago they quit their job and rented out their Durham flat to embark on their adventure.

Esther went hiking alone sometime after November 16, but was last seen by fellow hikers on November 22.

On that same day she sent a photo to her partner Daniel from the summit of Pic de Sauveguarde mountain.

Daniel had stayed at home at their French address with their five dogs.

But when on November 25 she didn’t appear on the other side of the mountains as they’d planned, Daniel grew worried and reported her as missing.

He then told loved ones of Esther’s disappearance in a post on Facebook on November 28.

He wrote: “I’m broken. Shattered to report that my beloved Esther, the person who taught me how to feel, is missing. She has was last seen six days ago when she sent me this photo. Search and rescue teams have so far found no trace of her.

“I’m heading back up searching now so I can’t reply to comments or messages. Sorry for the haste and inadequacy of these words.”

Daniel has been interviewed by Spanish police as a witness in the case.

The officer leading the search, Jean-Marc Bordinaro, said: “We interviewed Daniel at the farmhouse where he is living.

“We want to investigate all possibilities.”

He added: “We went to see Mr Colegate so that we could go through social media with him.

“I would like to stress we interviewed Mr Colegate as a witness, not a suspect.”