x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Missing British sailor's family share memories

Police have no new leads in disappearance case of Timmy MacColl.

Neil Cunningham flew to Dubai to help in the search for Timmy MacColl.
Neil Cunningham flew to Dubai to help in the search for Timmy MacColl.

The missing British sailor Timmy MacColl spent his last weekend in the UK on a boys-only trip to watch his favourite football team.

With a group of relatives that included his son and his wife's uncle, it was the Scotsman's last outing with family before heading to sea with the Royal Navy.

"We went to watch Southampton play away in February and we had great fun," said the uncle, Neil Cunningham, a police officer.

Less than four months later, Leading Seaman MacColl, 27, disappeared on a night out after his ship, HMS Westminster, docked at Dubai. He was last seen on May 27 leaving a Bur Dubai hotel at 2am. There are no new leads but Dubai Police have been exemplary, said Mr Cunningham, who arrived in Dubai at the weekend. He also took part in a vigil on Sunday at the spot where Mr MacColl was last seen.

"The questions [the police] asked me have comforted me. They have been very in-depth," he said. "They are being very diligent. We have also been able to provide information to them that has helped with some of their lines of inquiry."

Police have no solid evidence of what happened to Mr MacColl after he got into a taxi on May 27, in an inebriated state, outside the Regent Palace Hotel. They do know he attended the opening of the Ducati Cafe, in Dubai Mall, the day before his disappearance.

"In a picture, we have Timmy [at the cafe] holding a brown bag. When his kids saw the picture, they said their daddy had bought them presents," Mr Cunningham said.

A website set up by family and friends to highlight the disappearance, www.bringtimmyhome.co.uk, has posts thanking people for their support from his wife, Rachel, who is due to give birth to their third child in October.

"I've spoken to Rachel twice a day since I arrived," Mr Cunningham said. "She's giving out such a buzz to people by how strong she's being."

zalhassani@thenational.ae