SEARCHES are being stepped up for missing Colin Morton, who vanished on Christmas Eve.
Police are now carrying out house-to-house inquiries around Whitley Bay in a bid to trace the 52-year-old, who became depressed after losing his building society job.
And officers are still probing the sighting of a man who was spotted walking into the sea off Whitley Bay an hour after Colin was last seen.
Supt Peter Farrell, of Northumbria Police said: “"As time goes on we’re becoming increasingly concerned for the welfare of Mr Morton.
“It's possible he walked from the town centre towards the seafront and we want to hear from anyone who may have seen Mr Morton taking this route.
“Searches have been taking place throughout Whitley Bay and surrounding areas since he went missing and these are continuing.”
Colin, who had worked for the Newcastle Building Society for more than 10 years, was suspended on November 19 when it was discovered he had signed a form relating to some work a colleague had undertaken, not himself. And he was sacked from his job as a senior financial manager following a disciplinary hearing a month later.
Liz Callighan, his partner of 34 years was terrified people would think his dismissal had something to do with the type of dishonesty and financial irregularity that has plagued the banking industry over recent years.
“Up until five weeks ago, Colin was a very chatty, sociable, friendly person. He would talk to anybody,” she said.
“But when he was dismissed he was absolutely devastated. His career was a huge part of his life.”
Colin, from Whitley Bay, became severely depressed and after Liz begged him to get professional help he made an appointment with his doctor.
He was last seen when he left his home in Whitley Bay at 9am on Monday for the doctor’s surgery in the town centre.
CCTV at Whitley Bay Metro Station captured images of Colin walking across the footbridge.
He left the surgery, on Whitley Road, at just before 9.15am, and is known to have then gone to a bank in the town centre, before making a chilling phone call to Liz, saying he wanted to end his life.
Colin is described as being around 5ft 10in, with grey, thinning hair. When he left his home he was wearing a grey hooded top, grey V-necked T-shirt, navy blue track suit bottoms and black slip-on, trainer-type shoes.
Police want to hear from anyone with any information about Colin’s whereabouts.
They would also like to speak to anyone who thinks they may be the man spotted walking into the sea in case it was just someone going for a swim.
Call Northumbria Police on 101.