Police hope a computer-generated picture of a dad-of-two, who has been missing for more than 16 years, will solve the mystery of what has happened to him.

The age-progressed images of Graham Whitton, developed from photos of him at the time of his disappearance and how his family looks now, are being distributed in Bradford.

Detectives have renewed their appeal for help, on Mr Whitton’s 53rd birthday.

They believe he is either dead, after coming to harm at the time he disappeared, or has started a new life for reasons not known to police or his family.

Mr Whitton, a redundant factory worker, vanished on December 1, 1992, after leaving the Gardener’s Arms pub in Holme Top Lane, Bradford, where he had been drinking. He had been heading for the Old House at Home pub in Little Horton Lane, but never arrived.

He was divorced and living in lodgings in Louis Avenue, Canterbury, Bradford, but still saw his children, Anthony and Sandra, who are now in their 20s, every weekend.

His landlord reported him missing the following day.

Mr Whitton was a regular in pubs and betting shops in the area and it is thought he had built up huge gambling debts.

His former wife, Bernadette, has previously said she feared he had been murdered because of that.

He had also been saving for a Mediterranean holiday with friends and had left money and an unused holiday ticket on his mantelpiece.

He failed to attend his father’s funeral after he died in 1994.

Mr Whitton, who was nicknamed Ginger because of his hair colour, has also become a grandfather since he disappeared.

Detective Chief Inspector Steve Hopwood, of Bradford South CID, said there was no reason for Mr Whitton to have suddenly gone missing.

“We don’t have any evidence that he has met with any harm, but clearly that has got to be a possibility,” said Det Chief Insp Hopwood.

“We have to ask ourselves if he is still alive. We have looked at a number of possibilities and that is one. It would be naïve to think otherwise. There is also a possibility he may have started a new life. He did have financial difficulties, though they were not insurmountable and he had overcome worse problems before.

“If Graham is out there somewhere I would say to him that it is very important we know what happened to him and he has nothing to fear by coming forward.

“He may have his own reasons for going missing that the police and his family do not know about. That can remain, we just want to know he is safe and well.”

Det Chief Insp Hopwood added: “Things can change over 16 years and there is somebody within Bradford who knows what happened to Graham Whitton.

“His family are very worried about what has happened to him, and we share their concerns. The case will not be closed until we know the truth.”

Neighbourhood Policing Team officers were yesterday handing out leaflets, containing two age-enhanced images of Mr Whitton and a photo of him at the time, door-to-door in the area where he was last seen.

He was described at the time as white, 5ft 6ins tall, slim, with collar-length ginger hair, blue eyes and a ruddy complexion. He had a ‘City’ tattoo on his left fingers and BL on his left wrist.

Anyone who knew Mr Whitton, or has information about his whereabouts, should contact Det Chief Insp Hopwood on 0845 6060606, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

e-mail: steve.wright @telegraphandargus.co.uk