x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Missing British sailor's family step up search efforts

Family may send representative to Dubai to help in search for Timmy MacColl, who has been missing for more than a week.

Timmy MacColl, seen here with his wife Rachael, was last seen on May 27.
Timmy MacColl, seen here with his wife Rachael, was last seen on May 27.

The family of a British sailor who has been missing for more than a week is considering sending a representative to Dubai to help with the search for him.

Leading Seaman Timmy MacColl, 27, who lives in Gosport, Hampshire, was last seen at 2am on Sunday May 27, getting into a taxi on his own.

The Scot, who serves with the Royal Navy, was seen entering the taxi after leaving the Rock Bottom Cafe in the Regent Palace Hotel in Bur Dubai - a 15-minute drive from Port Rashid where his ship, HMS Westminster, was docked.

Neil Cunningham, the uncle of Leading Seaman MacColl’s wife, said: “We are considering sending out someone to represent the family."

"There are a lot of discussions on here about flying people out ... [and] about how this will be funded," said one campaigner, on the Facebook page "Bring Timmy Home" at http://www.facebook.com/groups/436915686332976.

Although information has been sparse, the family are happy with the way the case is being handled, said Mr Cunningham.

"Our gratitude and thanks go out to the lead investigating officer," he said. "We've been contacted by two or three organisations - who have been approached by Dubai Police, which has given us every trust and confidence."

A Twitter and Facebook campaign, supported by members of his family and volunteers, has gained international following. But Leading Seaman MacColl's whereabouts are still unknown.

"Bring Timmy Home," contains information tracing Leading Seaman MacColl's last known footsteps and it has gained almost 100,000 followers.

As part of their efforts to locate the sailor, Leading Seaman MacColl's wife, Rachael, who is due to give birth to their third child in October, made a television appearance on Monday asking for any information.

Flyers and bracelets, the latter containing the phrase, "Bring Timmy Home", have also been created by volunteers.

The support that has flooded in for the family has been overwhelming, said Mr Cunningham.

"The family has been inundated with messages of goodwill and information on how to get the word out that Timmy is missing in Dubai. Bearing in mind it's been moving so quickly - and it's not something we planned - we decided to see how we could use social networking and media. In particular, expatriates in Dubai have been nothing short of immense in supporting the cause."

This weekend, a group of Dubai-based volunteers plan to meet at Leading Seaman MacColl's last known location in support of the family.

"I live here, and although I don't know the family, it just struck a chord," said one volunteer.

"We are going to the spot where he was last seen and we will take along photos and ask people if they recognise him."

Some volunteers have visited local jails in their spare time as part of the community's efforts to locate him, she said.

A Royal Navy spokesman said: "We can confirm that Leading Seaman MacColl is currently unaccounted for in Dubai; everything is being done to ensure that he is located safely. His next of kin has been informed and we are working closely with the local authorities and FCO [Foreign and Commonwealth Office] representatives in the UAE to establish his whereabouts. We take great care to look after all members of the Naval Service wherever they serve around the world."

zalhassani@thenational.ae

* A website - http://www.bringtimmyhome.co.uk - has also been set up to help with the search for Timmy MacColl.