UK backpacker's claim of being lost for 12 days in Oz bush deemed publicity stunt

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London, July 17 (ANI): As Brit backpacker Jamie Neale's claims of being lost for 12 days in the Aussie bush are going around, survival experts have come out with doubts regarding the teen's story.

Ex-SAS hero Andy McNab said he was astonished the 19-year-old was able to survive sub-zero temperatures, while medics said Jamie looked "too healthy" to have endured such an ordeal.

While others are questioning how he knew which berries to eat while lost in the forest, and wondered how he failed to pick up one of the trails that could have led him to safety.

Neale, from Muswell Hill, North London, apparently survived on seeds, berries and leaves after getting lost in the Blue Mountains, 70 miles west of Sydney.

"This boy was supposed to be out in the freezing cold for two weeks dressed in jogging bottoms and thin top layers," the Sun quoted McNab as saying.

"I'd expect hypothermia to kill him in a few days.

know of an SAS lad who died from hypothermia within 36 hours on the Brecon Beacons - and he was in the proper kit.

"It doesn't seem to stack up. It's a popular tourist destination so how can he get lost? There are cable cars, paths and signposts. If he was trying to find his way out you'd expect him to have lots of scratches," he stated.

Neale was seen at the Ruined Castle viewpoint on July 3 after walking five miles from his hostel in Katoomba, and he then vanished until he was found on July 15 by other hikers on the Narrow Neck trail six miles away.

"I'd expect someone who had gone through that ordeal to have lost at least 8lb," doctor Carol Cooper, who looked at photos of Jamie before and after, said.

"He doesn't look like he's lost enough weight and there aren't many scratches on him. If I didn't know otherwise I'd guess he'd been out camping for a night," she said.

Ex-special forces officer Ken Hames was puzzled about how Neale knew which berries were okay to eat.

"About 40 per cent of berries in that region are edible, the rest will make you ill," he said.

"He's inexperienced enough to get lost in an area with signposts and footpaths, but he knows all about these berries. I find that really hard to accept. And how did he not eventually stumble across a trail?" he questioned.

Doubts emerged after Sean Anderson, who runs Sydney based 22 Management, signed up Neale for a 50,000 pounds deal to tell his tale to Australian TV audiences in a deal with Channel Nine's 60 Minutes.

However Neale's dad, Richard Cass, has vowed the cash would be handed to authorities to help pay for the search.

"There are people saying this is a stunt. The best way to scotch those rumours is to say we're not going to make any money out of this," he said.

"I don't want people saying he's a fake because I know that is not true. There are plenty of signs to show he's been to hell and back," he added. (ANI)

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