THE sister of a man who has been missing from his Sacriston home for more than three years has not given up hope that he is still alive.

As police officers renewed their search for former miner Edward Donnelly this week his sister, Kathleen Gault, said she hopes to see him again.

Mrs Gault, 70, who lives near his old house on Fynway, said: "I still hope that he is out there - somewhere. None of his family have given up hope.

"It has been awful since he disappeared. It might be easier if we knew one way or the other whether he is okay.

"This has had a massive impact on the family and not knowing what has happened really gets you down."

Mr Donnelly, who worked at Sacriston Pit and would now be 57, was a regular visitor at his sister's house.

He did not drink but enjoyed a smoke, reading and walking in the Durham and Chester-le-Street area.

She last saw him a few days before he mysteriously disappeared, in March 2002.

Mr Donnelly has not been seen since he vanished from the home he shared with his sister, Frances.

Mrs Gault said: "He didn't say anything was wrong and if he had I would have tried to help with whatever it was.

"He wasn't the sort to just move without telling us, that would be completely out of character. I can't think of him doing anything to himself."