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Bizarre twist in the case of newlywed doctor who mysteriously vanished 30 years ago as his school classmates swear they spotted him at a camping site with a woman and two children

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 14/01/2020 Jackson Barron

Former medical school classmates of a young doctor who disappeared 30 years ago say they saw him on a remote Australian bush track eight years later.

a man looking at the camera: Dr Peter Coop was reported missing after he failed to turn up to a month-long ophthalmic basic science course in Dunedin in June 1989 © Provided by Daily Mail Dr Peter Coop was reported missing after he failed to turn up to a month-long ophthalmic basic science course in Dunedin in June 1989 Dr Peter Coop travelled to Dunedin on New Zealand's North Island on June 5, 1989 to attend a month-long ophthalmic basic science course.

The 28-year-old checked into a hostel near Dunedin Hospital, where he ate dinner with a colleague and called his wife Galina to tell her he was excited for the course and would call her the next day.

But Dr Coop didn't turn up to the opening day of the course and has been missing ever since.

His family believe he is dead, but police think he may have staged his own disappearance.

A number of Dr Coop's friends swear they have seen him in locations in Australia and New Zealand in the years since he vanished.

a yellow and black truck parked in front of a car: Former classmates of Dr Coop, Dr Roger Halliwell and his wife Dr Elizabeth Hagen believe they saw Coop driving a 1982 Lada Niva 4WD (pictured) on a remote track in northern New South Wales in 1997. Police believe it may be a lead to finding him © Provided by Daily Mail Former classmates of Dr Coop, Dr Roger Halliwell and his wife Dr Elizabeth Hagen believe they saw Coop driving a 1982 Lada Niva 4WD (pictured) on a remote track in northern New South Wales in 1997. Police believe it may be a lead to finding him

Dr Roger Halliwell and his wife Dr Elizabeth Hagen are former classmates of Dr Coop, with the trio attending Auckland Medical School together.  

The couple were driving their Toyota Prado along a dirt track at Emu Creek Park in northern New South Wales in 1997 and pulled over to let a pale yellow Lada Niva 4WD pass them on the narrow roadway.

They were stunned at who they saw driving towards then, both instantly believing the man to be Dr Coop, who had been missing for eight years.

'We were certainly close enough to have that light bulb recognition,' Dr Halliwell told Stuff. 

'I'm 100 per cent sure he recognised us and we certainly recognised him.' 

Dr Halliwell went for a walk later that day and saw the same man roasting marshmellows over a fire with his partner and two young children.

a flock of seagulls standing next to a body of water: Emu Creek in northern New South Wales, where Dr Halliwell and Dr Hagen believe they saw Coop © Provided by Daily Mail Emu Creek in northern New South Wales, where Dr Halliwell and Dr Hagen believe they saw Coop

At 5.30 the next morning, Dr Hagen approached the man's campsite to find that the group had packed up and left, giving the couple further suspicion that it was Dr Coop under a new identity. 

a person posing for the camera: Dr Coop checked into room 28 at a hostel near Dunedin Hospital on June 5 1989 where he ate dinner with a colleague and called his wife Galina. He never attended his course the next day and has been missing ever since © Provided by Daily Mail Dr Coop checked into room 28 at a hostel near Dunedin Hospital on June 5 1989 where he ate dinner with a colleague and called his wife Galina. He never attended his course the next day and has been missing ever since The couple reported the sighting to police in 2010, thirteen years after the fact, leading detectives to search registries for owners of pale yellow Lada Niva 4WDs in 1997. 

Former head of the Australia Lada Owners Club Bob Webb said the pale yellow colour was 'most unusual'.

An ex-girlfriend of Dr Coop was certain that he had fled to Australia to start a new life.

'I have no doubt at all that Peter staged his own disappearance and moved to Australia to become an artist,' she said.

Dr Coop's missing person's file is still open after thirty years. 

Pictures: Crimes that shocked New Zealand

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