Sally Mapstone, Principal at the University of St Andrews, has confirmed the death of first-year student Duncan Sim in an email sent to staff and students this afternoon.
In her email, she confirmed that the remains found last week on West Sands were those of the 19-year-old Chemistry undergraduate, who had been missing since Wednesday 14 March. Mr Sim subsequently failed to return to his accommodation and was reported missing the following day.
Her email said, “I know that Duncan’s loss will be widely felt across our small community and beyond, and all the more acutely because by all accounts he was someone who had so much promise, and had been living his life to the full. If there is any comfort to be taken from today’s news, it is in the fact that the long search for him is over.”
A member of the public reported the discovery of partial remains to Police on Sunday 3 June, and they have now been formally identified. According to a statement made by the police, Mr Sim’s death is currently being treated as unexplained but not suspicious, and a report has been submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.
Chief Inspector Steven Hamilton, Local Area Commander for North East Fife, said: “This has been a terrible loss of a young man’s life and our thoughts and condolences are with Duncan’s family and friends.
“Their courage and cooperation over the course of our investigation has been commendable and we will continue to provide them with support and assistance as they come to terms with this tragic news.
“I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to all the members of the public who assisted with our inquiries by sharing our appeals information and supporting our search activity.”
Professor Mapstone expressed her deep sympathy for Mr Sim’s family, from Duns in the Scottish Borders, saying that Student Services are offering support to his close friends and anyone affected by the news. She added that details on funeral and memorial arrangements would be made known at a later time.
Her email continued, “I know that we will all today be thinking again of Duncan’s family, his mum and dad Sheila and Gordon, and brothers and sister, who have shown such courage and dignity during the unspeakably difficult weeks since his disappearance.”
Mr Sim, who had been studying Chemistry with Medicinal Chemistry, joined the University Rugby club when he began his studies at St Andrews, having previously played rugby and cricket to a high standard in his hometown.
In a statement released through Fife Police, Mr Sim’s family said: “We are heartbroken by the loss of Duncan, our much loved son, brother, uncle and friend.
“We are very grateful for all the support that we received from the public, especially the Fife and Scottish Borders communities, during the search for Duncan.
“We would also like to extend our thanks to Police Scotland for their efforts and support throughout the course of their investigations.”
“We respectfully request privacy at this difficult time.”
Mr Sim’s disappearance on March 14 sparked a major search within St Andrews, with Air, Dog and Marine units assisting the police efforts. In addition, more than one hundred volunteers from the town and Mr Sim’s hometown were involved in searching for him and distributing leaflets and flyers.