British hiker found alive after two week search

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Anchor Jeb Sharp speaks with the BBC's Nick Bryant about the case of missing 19-year-old hiker British backpacker Jamie Neale, who was found alive and well today in the Australian bush nearly two weeks after he went missing.

JEB SHARP: I'm Jeb Sharp. This is The World. Our next two stories share one theme ? the father-son relationship. In a few minutes we'll hear from a man in Italy who thinks music offers an opportunity to connect with his son. First though we turn to Australia where a father whose son was missing just got some excellent news. The son British backpacker Jamie Neale was found a few hours ago. He'd been lost in the Australian bush for almost two weeks. Many involved in the search had almost given up hope. Australian police were just about to officially call off the search for the 19 year old and the young man's father, Richard Cass, was getting ready to fly back to his home in England because he believed his son was dead. The BBC's correspondent Nick Bryant spoke to Cass soon after he was reunited with his son.

RICHARD CASS: I was three hours away from flying home. I'd accepted I wasn't going to see my son again. Then I had the good news come through on a recorded message. I was up there you know. My boy's been found.

NICK BRYANT: You jumped on a helicopter, you came straight here, you met Jamie?

CASS: I met Jamie.

BRYANT: What do you say?

CASS: Well my main thing is I need to thank the people of Australia for what they've done for my boy and I'm so glad to see Jamie. I can't even remember my first words. I know I had a go at him about how stupid he'd been. He's supposed to be an intelligent boy. He's supposed have his father's brains but? It was like a training film in how to get lost in the bush. Leave your phone behind you. The only teenager in the world who'd leave his phone behind. Not take a beacon with him and he actually brought a space blanket to Australia and left it Perth before he flew over to Sydney. So you know he was a bit tearful when I had a go at him. ?No please don't have a go at me.? But you know he knows we love him to bits and we're so glad to get him back.

BRYANT: And once you've given him a good telling off you realize he's actually in remarkable shape.

CASS: Yeah. I knew that as long as he hadn't fallen off a cliff and dashed out his brains he would survive. He's like me. He doesn't mind the cold. He could run to the Antarctic in his underpants and not feel the cold. So the cold was the least of my problems. Everybody else was telling me oh he's going to freeze out there. But I was saying not my Jamie. One of his schoolmates at home said if anyone can get out of this it's Jamie because he reads books. It's about the only kid left in England I think that does read books. And well that's come true now. You know.

BRYANT: And you'd given up hope. You'd?

CASS: Honestly I'd given up. I committed a terrible sin. I'll probably get banned from Australia. I took a chisel out to ruin [INAUDIBLE] rocks where he was last seen. I chiseled his name. I put born, date of birth. I put the date he'd gone missing. I didn't want people to think that maybe he'd put it there so I put my son after that and that was meant as a kind of memorial to him.

BRYANT: And you buried a rose as well.

CASS: Yeah a red rose. Just you know a bit of England lying in a foreign field sort of thing you know. But at the same time I felt he's surrounded by such beautiful scenes here. I mean I'm going to dye and be left in a cemetery on North Circular Road with fumes going all over me but he had this magnificent backdrop of the Blue Mountains with Lire birds pecking over his grave. That was what comforted me.

BRYANT: And how did he survive?

CASS: He survived by eating what he could which turned out to be some sort of seeds and [INAUDIBLE].

BRYANT: Bit of bush tucker.

CASS: That's the one, yeah.

BRYANT: What's going to happen now?

CASS: I'm not sure whether he's going to come back with me to London. I'm hoping to fly back this weekend and go back?

BRYANT: Because no doubt his mom wants to see him.

CASS: Oh his mom will definitely want to see him, yeah.

SHARP: That was Richard Cass speaking with the BBC's Nick Bryant in Sydney Australia. Mr. Cass's son Jamie was missing for almost two weeks until he was found earlier today.