The parents of a man who went for a walk near his NSW central coast home, then never returned, have urged him to contact them, if he can.

On April 11 Shannon O'Brien, a 39-year-old father of five, left his home in Gwandalan to take a look at junk that had been left out for the local council to collect.

The youngest of three sons to John and Londa O'Brien would have celebrated his 40th birthday on August 8, and was about to buy his own home with his wife, Lisa.

He was on six weeks leave from the Navy, and had seemed quiet, John told reporters on Sunday, the first day of National Missing Persons week for 2011.

"I put it down to travel. I thought he was lacking sleep," he said.

When he failed to return home on the afternoon of April 11, police and volunteers conducted a search of bushland near his home.

His parents only recently became aware Shannon had been battling with depression.

"He was the sort of person who liked to keep things under wraps," John said.

If he were able to receive a message from his them, they wanted him to know he was "very much loved and irreplaceable".

"Whatever problems you have, they can be worked out one way or another," John said.

Sitting down for an evening meal was no longer something he took for granted.

"You sit down, and you wonder what your son is eating. You wonder if he has somewhere warm and safe to sleep.

"Is he still with us? We just don't know."

The theme of this year's Missing Persons Week is the impact they have on family, friends and the community.

It will include an outdoor media campaign featuring a picture of Shannon, in the hope of prompting a member of the public who may have seen him to contact police.

Each year in NSW, more than 11,000 people are reported missing to police.

Just over half of those are aged under 16, while eight per cent are aged over 60.

The reasons people go missing are many and varied, and can include abduction, murder, domestic violence, misadventure, miscommunication, mental illness and dementia.

Research indicates that for each person reported missing, there are 12 people directly affected by their disappearance.

If they are able to, police say those who have gone missing because they need to escape from problems they are struggling with, should contact police to let them know they are okay.

"It's not a crime to go missing but police need to know a person who has gone missing is safe and well," Assistant Commissioner Peter Barrie said.

Family man left without wallet and phone

30 Jul, 2012 04:00 AM


IT’S a mystery that has investigators baffled and a family desperate for closure – a father of five, leading a seemingly happy life, disappears without a trace.

Shannon Gregory O’Brien, 40, was last seen leaving his home in the lakeside suburb of Gwandalan about 10.30am on April 11 last year.

He had recently returned from six weeks at sea with the Australian Merchant Navy and despite acting unusually quiet during the journey from Williamtown Airport to the shores of Lake Macquarie, he appeared excited to see his wife Lisa and children Amelia, 15, Bailey, 12, Felicity, 7, Savannah, 4, and Ashton, 3.

More than 15 months have passed and despite two extensive searches of bushland in Lake Macquarie, police investigations and desperate pleas for information from Shannon’s parents, John and Lorna O’Brien, the family is no closer to knowing the truth.

‘‘We wake up in the middle of the night thinking about it,’’ Mr O’Brien said. ‘‘There isn’t a day go by that we don’t sit and have some discussion on it. The passage of time hasn’t made things any easier.’’

‘‘No, it doesn’t get any easier and I think your fear for his safety becomes worse each day,’’ Mrs O’Brien said. ‘‘But on the other hand, no news is good news.

‘‘We still have hope that an answer will come one day.

‘‘We hope that he’ll emerge, that we’ll get a phone call that Shannon has come back home or he’ll just turn up at the back door

‘‘That’s our hope, that’s what we cling to.’’

Mr O’Brien said his son didn’t take his wallet, phone, passport or keys with him when he left on April 11 and hasn’t accessed any bank accounts since his disappearance.

‘‘It’s not beyond the realms of possibility [that he could return], but yet it seems to be highly unlikely,’’ Mr O’Brien said.

Mr O’Brien wants investigators from Tuggerah Lakes police to interview Shannon’s co-workers to see if they can shed any light on his state of mind before his disappearance.

Their message for anyone who reads this is simple: ‘‘We just so much want our son back and if anybody has any idea, anyone who could throw any light on it at all we’d love to know about it,’’ Mr O’Brien said.


The Entrance police 4333 2999

Crime Stoppers 1800 333 000