Missing Sailor's Wife Makes Appeal
The wife of a Royal Navy sailor who went missing five months ago while ashore in Dubai has fought back tears as she made an appeal for him to be found.
Leading Seaman (LS) Timothy MacColl, who was serving on HMS Westminster, went missing while the ship was visiting the United Arab Emirates.
The 28-year-old was last seen getting into a taxi taking him back to the ship at Port Rashid in the early hours of May 27.
At a press conference held at the navy headquarters on Whale Island in Portsmouth his wife, Rachael appealed for information about his whereabouts.
When LS MacColl went missing, his wife was 20 weeks pregnant with their third child, Eriskay, who has since been born and has not met her father.
The couple, who live in Gosport, Hampshire, also have a son, Cameron, and daughter, Skye.
Mrs MacColl, 25, said:
''My husband is not just a sailor, he's an adoring father, son and uncle.
''He is my soul mate, my first love and best friend.
''We have been together since we were teenagers, we have grown together, got married and started a family.
''Days before my husband went missing we had celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary and his present from me were scan pictures of our soon-to-be third child who I had just seen at our 20-week scan.
''We planned to go out when he came home to celebrate.
''We had everything to look forward to and as I have said from the beginning my husband wants to be found.
''He was so excited about our baby coming and I had sent him loads of bump photos.''
''The one thing that pains me the most is that he's not here for them.
''Growing up without a father meant Timmy put everything into being a great daddy and he would be heartbroken that he hasn't been with them the last few months.''
Describing the moment that she found out that her husband was missing, she said:
''Being a military wife you know that knock on the door is a possibility but you never think it will be you.
''When that knock came I collapsed for I was told that my husband wasn't dead or injured but missing.
''My head couldn't understand what they meant.
''For the last five months I have sat at home unable to give up hope, unable to move forward, unable to grieve and constantly dreading the fact that the knock on the door might or might not ever come again.
''So today is so important to all of Timmy's family because we want his face to be seen by everybody in the hope they may remember something that will lead to bringing Timmy home.''
''This has been the longest deployment so far but unlike others there's no rainbow or homecoming at the end.''
Mrs MacColl was supported at the press conference by family members including several who had travelled down from Killin, Perthshire, Scotland, where her husband grew up.
Mrs MacColl said that she had become frustrated at the lack of co-operation from the Dubai police.
''There's been a lot of communication breakdown, it has affected the whole of this investigation.
''We invited the Dubai police to attend this press conference today and they are not here.
''As a family we find it very hard. I call Dubai police on a regular basis three or four times a week, I've run up a phone bill for three or four hundred pounds, it's not as if we haven't tried.''
Mrs MacColl said she believed her husband was still alive.
''In my heart of hearts I do not think he made it back to the port.
''I do believe he is just sat in a police station somewhere and no-one has found him yet.''
Describing the reactions of Cameron, seven, and Skye, four, she added:
''My daughter thinks her Daddy is still going to come home, she asks if they are still looking for Daddy.
''She thinks he is going to be found whereas my son is a bit older and he thinks he is in heaven and he will be there waiting for him.''
Commander Jonathan Hodgkins, of Royal Navy personnel, said:
''Timmy MacColl is registered as a missing person in Dubai and the UK.
''An investigation led by the Dubai police is ongoing; supporting evidence has been provided by the Royal Navy Police from witness interviews and other evidence obtained from HMS Westminster.
''Despite a series of searches in the port and underwater conducted by the Dubai authorities and HMS Middleton and HMS Pembroke, no physical evidence has been discovered.
''The Royal Navy, Timmy's wife Rachael and the rest of the family remain deeply concerned for his safety and this morning we are appealing for any new witnesses of information that may help lead to locating him.''
Responding to concerns about the investigation in Dubai, Lieutenant Commander Tony Day, who is leading the Royal Navy Police investigation, said the probe was being led by the Dubai authorities.
He said that despite offers by the Navy for two witnesses from HMS Westminster to give witness statements, they had not been requested by the Dubai police.
''Primacy is with the Dubai police and the offer for the witnesses to be interviewed by video-link remains open.''
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said in a statement:
''We continue to provide the consular assistance we are able to to LS MacColl's family at this very difficult time.
''The FCO itself is unable to search for missing people overseas; however, we have remained in contact with the Dubai authorities about their ongoing investigation.''
On May 26, LS MacColl went to the Rock Bottom Cafe with two other colleagues shortly before midnight.
He was seen on CCTV at the entrance, talking to an Emirati biker.
Witnesses say LS MacColl was brought out of the premises in the early hours of May 27 after falling asleep, and two sailors say he was put in a taxi and his fare paid for him to be taken back to Port Rashid, about 10 minutes away.
He has not been seen since.
FIVE MONTHS MISSING
Back in August, the family of the missing sailor released 100 yellow balloons when his warship, HMS Westminster, returned home to Portsmouth Naval Base (13/10/12).
Sailors also lined the decks of a Royal Navy warship as it returned to base, leaving a gap for their missing colleague.