Sarm Heslop: Plea to boyfriend to help in missing woman search

Image source, @MissingSarmHeslop
Image caption,
Sarm Heslop has not been seen since early March

A friend of a British woman who vanished from a yacht off the US Virgin Islands has appealed to her boyfriend to shed more light on what happened.

Sarm Heslop, from Southampton, was reported missing from Ryan Bane's boat moored off St John early on 8 March.

Andrew Baldwin has asked Mr Bane to explain what happened in the nine hours between him calling police and contacting the coastguard.

Mr Bane's lawyer said his client was "devastated" at what happened.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Mr Baldwin, a friend of Ms Heslop, 41, said: "We're really desperate to find her, and desperate to find answers and information."

Image caption,
Andrew Baldwin appealed to anyone who may have information about Ms Heslop's disappearance

Virgin Islands Police Department has searched the island and its coastline using divers, drones and dogs but have yet to confirm if she was onboard the catamaran the night before she was reported missing.

Mr Bane, the last person to have seen her, "has declined detectives' request for an interview" according to police.

Former flight attendant Ms Heslop is known to have had dinner in St John, which was under a 22:00 local time Covid curfew, with US citizen Mr Bane on 7 March.

Her possessions, including her bank cards and mobile phone, were still onboard when she vanished.

Image source, Family handout
Image caption,
Former flight attendant Ms Heslop has not been seen for six weeks

Mr Baldwin added: "At 02:30 there was a call made to the police by Ryan Bane, to suggest or say that Sarm had fallen overboard, and the police at that point advised for the coastguard to be called.

"That call to the coastguard then took a further nine hours… What happened in the intervening hours?"

In a statement, David Cattie, attorney for Mr Bane, said: "Ryan's only hope is that Sarm is found alive and well… Mr Bane has spent countless hours searching for Sarm and will continue to do so.

"Ryan is devastated that Sarm is missing."

Ms Heslop's friends have set up a Facebook page to share information about her disappearance.

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