A dad-of-one from Golcar could be legally declared dead – eight years after he went missing.
Steven Cooper left home in Scar Lane on his 47th birthday in January 2008.
His car was found near a remote loch in northern Scotland but there was no confirmed sighting and nothing has been heard from him since.
Now his partner Claire Lodge has made an application to the High Court for a declaration of presumed death.
Spouses or close relatives can apply for a presumption of death certificate if the person has been missing for at least seven years.
Declarations are often sought so that a missing person’s affairs and property can be dealt with.
News of the application came as a shock to Steven’s family. His mum Margaret, now 74, received a solicitor’s letter out of the blue last year.
Steven’s sister Trish, 47, said the family had never given up hope that he was still alive.
“He is still classed by the police as a high risk missing person,” said Trish. “This has distressed the family quite a lot and my mum’s health isn’t good right now.
“There’s no evidence Steve is alive but there’s no evidence he is dead either.
“I know Claire has to move on with her life and I have every sympathy with that but my mum is not ready to presume her son dead and I agree with her. You have to keep a glimmer of hope.”
Steven, who has a son Nathan and two grandchildren he has never seen, is believed to have left home at about 3am on January 21.
He left his driving licence, passport, bank cards and more than £100 in cash at home and did not take a change of clothes. He didn’t leave a note.
Steven’s abandoned car was discovered in a remote area near Loch Laggan. Divers searched the loch but found no trace.
A legal notice has been published in the Examiner giving 21 days for anyone with information about Steven to make representations.
The application is expected to be heard at the High Court in Leeds in March.
Trish declined to say whether the family would be opposing the order but they have submitted letters.
“We have written down how we feel and we don’t really know how these things work but we are not legally represented at this time,” she said.
“There are still questions to be answered and appeals to be made. We don’t know whether it was Steve who was driving that car in Scotland or why he would drive up a dirt track in a forest.”
National appeals have been made and Trish has been interviewed for a TV programme about missing people which could be commissioned by BBC2.