Alan Shearer and Andy Murray back plea to find disabled teen's voice machine

The father of a disabled teenager who has been left unable to communicate after thieves stole her computer has been overwhelmed after the story spread across the globe.

An appeal for help to find the talking aid used by teen Miya Thirlby has been shared on social media by football legend Alan Shearer and tennis hero Andy Murray and has been retweeted more than 18,000 times.

In the post Mr Shearer urged the thief to come forward.

He wrote: “Come on man. Do the decent thing and please somehow get the machine back to this little girl.

The 16-year-old from Plymouth, who also has epilepsy, uses a tablet with sophisticated software which generates speech from what she is looking at.

Her father Paul Johnson said the Accent 1400 cost around £5,700 and he originally asked for information about its whereabouts after it was stolen from his car outside the family home.

After his tweet went viral, Mr Johnson, a 40-year-old business analyst, said: “The reaction has been nuts.

“It’s quite overwhelming.

“It restores your faith in human nature.”

His daughter needs the computer as she cannot talk.

He said the thieves may have thought they were stealing a regular computer as it was stored in a laptop bag.

He was desperate to get it back for Miya as the software was specially adapted to work with her eyes.

The machine has pictures of her father, mother Kerrie Thirlby and her twin Macie and it says their names if Miya looks at the images.

He urged anyone who might know where it is to hand it in to a responsible person.

A fundraising page has been set up to buy a replacement, although Mr Johnson, an exiled Newcastle United fan, had hoped it would not be necessary as he wanted the equipment to be returned.

He said: “Plymouth is not that big and word has spread so I am pretty sure the people who did this will know by now.

“It’s looking doubtful we will get it back but you never know.”

Additional reporting by Press Association

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