Police searching for missing student nurse Owami Davies wrongly released photos of another woman which were then reported by media outlets, it has emerged.
Ms Davies, 24, from Grays, Essex who has not been seen in over six weeks since a sighting on July 7 in west Croydon, has no access to her phone or bank cards.
Now detectives say Ms Davies could be sleeping rough after her Oyster card ran out, as it was previously suggested she could be travelling around on public transport in a ‘dazed’ and ‘confused’ state.
On 7 August, the Met Police released CCTV images from a Croydon convenience store dated August 3, picturing a woman they said was Ms Davies.
Actual CCTV footage of Owami Davies. Police searching for missing student nurse Owami Davies wrongly released photos of another woman which were then reported by media outlets
The force realised the error and withdrew the pictures ‘hours later’, issuing an apology.
‘We previously issued two still CCTV images of a woman in a shop which were titled Owami Davies shop 1/2.
‘These images are not of Owami – please withdraw them from any publications. We will be sending out correct images ASAP and apologise for this error,’ the Met said at the time.
Amid reports on Monday about the police’s mistake, a Met spokesperson told MailOnline that the main focus should be on trying to find Owami.
They did not respond when asked about reports that the two pictures of the incorrect woman were left with media outlets for ‘hours’ or when questioned about how they identified her as being Ms Davies.
In a statement the Met said: ‘The image was published in error and was removed as soon as this was realised.’
Owami Davies, 24, has been missing since she left her family home in Grays, Essex, on July 4 – more than six weeks ago
They added that they have engaged proactively with the media and have so far published nine appeals for information.
They said they are trawling through more than 50,000 hours of CCTV footage to try to trace Owami’s movements.
The 24-year-old was last seen just after midnight in Derby Road, West Croydon, South London, on July 7.
The day before that she was found asleep in a doorway in Clarendon Road, Croydon while waiting for a friend, but told Metropolitan Police officers that she did not need help and left.
During a briefing with journalists on Monday, Detective Chief Inspector Nigel Penney said: ‘There is no evidence that she’s come to harm.
‘We’re still hopeful that we’ll find her alive and well.’
Asked whether she could be sleeping rough, he said: ‘We’re open to all possibilities and that is one current working hypothesis, that she is in that current situation with her life.’
The disappearance of student nurse Owami Davies: A full timeline
Mystery continues to surround the sudden disappearance of Owami Davies, who has been missing for more than six weeks.
July 4: Owami leaves her family home in Grays, Essex, where she lives with her mother Nicol Davies, 46, and brothers
July 6: Police officers speak to Owami at an address in Clarendon Road after being called to reports of a concern for welfare. They let her go after she tells them and paramedics she does not want help and leaves
July 7: The student nurse is seen in the early hours walking along Derby Road, West Croydon, more than 28 miles away from her home
July 7: An unconfirmed sighting was then reported to police close to nearby Clarendon Road at around 7am later the same day
July 7: CCTV footage is released by police showing Owami walking along London Road in Croydon, south London, towards the Norbury area at around 12.30pm.
She is seen wearing a dark jacket, red t-shirt, light grey joggers and slider type shoes. She also had a white handbag over her shoulder.
July 31: The Metropolitan Police first issued a public appeal for assistance in the search three weeks after Owami’s disappearance.
August 3: Detectives confirm three men from the Croydon area – 23, 27 and 32 – have been taken into custody over her disappearance.
August 3: The Met releases images of Owami on the night of July 7 inside a sham in Derby Road, Croydon.
The force also appeals to speak to the driver of a white van that was parked in the same road.
It is revealed that she was in the company of a man and crossed the road just as the van pulled out.
Officers begin speaking to the public and handing out appeal leaflets.
August 4: Another arrest is made in connection with the disappearance, a 23-year-old man at an address in Croydon on suspicion of murder
August 5: Police issue another public appeal more than a month after she went missing from her family home.
Detectives say ‘they have a clearer idea of Owami’s movements’ after extensive CCTV enquiries
August 7: Another police appeal reveals an unconfirmed sighting reported at around 7am in Clarendon Road, West Croydon, on July 7. A 27-year-old man is arrested on suspicion of kidnap, the fifth arrest.
August 9: The Met continues to appeal for help from the public in its search after revealing that officers have ‘searched houses and parks, viewed hundreds of hours of CCTV and conducted extensive door-to-door enquires’.
August 10: Police release then new CCTV footage of Owami walking along London Road, Croydon, wearing ‘a distinctive red Adidas top’
August 16: Police say they have received reports of ‘someone of Owami’s description being seen in the Croydon area in the days after she was last seen’.
August 22: During a briefing with journalists, Detective Chief Inspector Nigel Penney said: ‘There is no evidence that she’s come to harm. We’re still hopeful that we’ll find her alive and well.’ He added that a ‘working hypothesis’ was that Owami could be sleeping rough after her Oyster card ran out.
Investigators are trawling through 117 reported sightings of Ms Davies, who had experienced periods of depression in the past which she needed medical treatment for, and had also used alcohol to deal with the condition.
Officers said that she had used different names, but would not reveal what they were.
Five people have been arrested and bailed in connection with her disappearance – two on suspicion of murder and three on suspicion of kidnap – but police say there is no evidence that she has come to harm.
Police have come under scrutiny in recent days as it was revealed that officers had come into contact with the student on July 6, the same day she was reported missing.
Officers were called to an address in Croydon over the welfare of a woman who told them she did not want help and left before an ambulance could arrive.
They were unaware at the time that she had not been in touch with her family, and Ms Davies had not yet been marked as a missing person on the national police database.
Police realised around a month later as the investigation became wider-reaching that they had dealt with the student that day.
Ms Davies left her home in Grays, Essex, on July 4 and was reported missing to Essex Police two days later.
The Metropolitan Police officers who spoke to her on July 6 did not yet know that she was a missing person.
Mr Penney said on Monday: ‘On Wednesday July 6, officers were called to the Clarendon Road area of Croydon.
‘There were concerns for the welfare of a woman at the location.
‘Officers attended and called the London Ambulance Service, but the woman stated she did not want assistance and left.’
Ms Davies’ family and members of an Independent Advisory Group have seen body worn camera footage of the interaction, but it will not yet be released publicly.
Watchdog the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is considering whether to investigate the police contact with Ms Davies that day.
The missing persons investigation was passed to the Metropolitan Police from Essex Police on July 23, and taken over by the Specialist Crime squad on August 1.
Around 50 officers are currently working on the investigation, and they are getting advice from the National Crime Agency.
The PA news agency has contacted the IOPC and Essex Police for comment.
Ms Davies’ distraught mother Nicol has previously pleaded for any witnesses to come forward and officers are growing increasingly concerned for Miss Davies’ safety.
At the time she vanished, Miss Davies was described as ‘vulnerable’ and had been depressed.
She had recently secured a job at St Thomas and St Guy’s Hospital upon her graduation.
Her mother, Nicol Davies, 46, has made repeated emotional appeals to help find her daughter.
She said: ‘It is obvious that someone out there has seen something, someone out there knows something, someone out there heard something.
‘I am begging, I am asking for the public’s help, from the people, to say if you know, if you have heard or seen her, or she passed you, please speak up.
‘All we really want is to find her, all we really need is for her to come home or to know her whereabouts.’
She continued: ‘I sit here as a desperate mother at the mercy of anyone that knows or heard something to help me find my baby, that’s all I’m asking, just help to find her.
Ms Davies’ mother Nicol Davies, 46, called on anyone who has any information about the whereabouts of her missing daughter to come forward
She was last seen in Croydon on July 7, with this CCTV image showing her walking north on London Road shortly after midday
‘Or her, if she’s somewhere and hears this, to please come home. We miss her so much, her brothers and myself miss her, need her.
‘We are not complete, we just want her to come home and, again, if she is listening she should know she’s not in trouble.’
The Met’s Specialist Crime Command is leading the investigation into her disappearance, and has brought in support from the National Crime Agency.
Anyone with information can call police on 020 8721 4622, or to remain anonymous contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or online.
The Kings College nursing student had secured a job at Guy’s and St Thomas’s health trust in London upon her graduation, but had fallen into a depression
The Met Police has confirmed its officers spoke to Owami Davies in Croydon on July 6, two days after she went missing