A Brighton man has been remanded in custody charged with the murder of missing Portslade father and garage manager Gary Hampson.
Daniel Alexander, 61, a former mechanic, of no fixed address, appeared before Brighton magistrates today.
He has been charged with his murder, conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, robbery, attempted robbery and assault causing grievous bodily harm.
The robbery charges relate to incidents in Brighton on Wednesday 19 January and Friday 21 January.
A second man, Roy Bartup, 57, of Natal Road, Brighton, has been charged with conspiring to pervert the course of justice.
The pair are being held in custody and are due to appear at Lewes Crown Court tomorrow (Thursday 12 May).
A 48-year-old man from Brighton arrested on suspicion of Mr Hampson’s murder answered police bail today.
He was bailed again until Wednesday 25 May.
Work began today on the search for the body in an area close to the A23.
Detective Chief Inspector Jeff Riley, who is heading the investigation, said: “We are working with search advisers to consider a search for a body and are currently focusing our attention on the A23 corridor.
“Through intelligence and statistical analysis we have identified 16 sites in the Cowfold, Henfield and Bolney area to search.
“Specialist officers have today began searching in these areas, looking for changes or disturbance to vegetation to indicate that a body has been left or buried.
“These searches will be continuing for a number of days.”
Detective Chief Inspector Riley and his colleagues in the Sussex Police Major Crime Branch are also keen to trace a distinctive van as part of their murder investigation.
The light blue Ford Escort van has been converted into a disabled vehicle and belongs to a customer of the Kops Cars garage in Little Western Street, Brighton.
Mr Hampson managed the garage on the border of Brighton and Hove.
The van was left with the garage in late December and photographed by traffic wardens in Cross Street at its junction with Little Western Street on New Year’s Eve.
When a warden returned on Wednesday 12 January the van was no longer there.
Detective Chief Inspector Riley said: “This van was left with the garage for repair in December and by (Wednesday) 12 January the van was gone.
“We know the van was not returned to the rightful owner and despite extensive enquiries we have been unable to trace it.
“If anyone believes they may have seen this distinctive van they are urged to contact police immediately.
“This is a very difficult time for the family and specialist officers will continue to support them throughout this investigation.”
Mr Hampson was reported missing in January after failing to contact his 10-year-old daughter despite having been in regular contact with her.
Detectives have been conducting a murder investigation since finding a significant amount of Mr Hampson’s blood at the garage that he managed.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Sussex Police on 0845 6070999 or the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.