DETECTIVES in Dubai are investigating whether missing Gosport sailor Timmy MacColl was kidnapped by a criminal motorcycle gang.
Police are keen to trace a man caught on CCTV talking with Timmy outside a popular biker bar shortly before the 27-year-old dad-of-two vanished on May 27.
The man, who was dressed in motorcycling leathers and a black, leather waistcoat, may hold vital information.
He is being urged by Timmy’s family to contact police – if only to rule himself out of their inquiries.
Motorcycle gangs are known to operate in the Emirate and bikers – some of whom carry knives – recently clashed with local police during Ramadan.
Rock Bottom Cafe in Bur Dubai is a popular nightspot for motorcyclists and bike-mad Timmy, who was on a run ashore with his ship HMS Westminster, was last seen drinking there before being put into a taxi by shipmates at 2am. The driver was told to drive to nearby Port Rashid where Westminster was docked but Timmy never made it back on board.
The sailor’s uncle-in-law, Neil Cunningham, believes he unknowingly spoke to the biker from the CCTV picture when he flew out to Dubai two weeks after Timmy vanished.
He told The News: ‘When I was out there, this man wearing a leather waistcoat came and spoke to me.
‘He took an active interest and asked me for one of the missing persons posters and then got straight on the phone.
‘I’d forgotten about him until I heard about the issues with motorcycle gangs during Ramadan and that made me think again.
‘I looked at the CCTV pictures and I realised the guy who spoke to me was the same one pictured with Timmy the night he went missing.’
The family have not been contacted by any groups making ransom demands.
But Mr Cunningham, who is a Hampshire Constabulary detective, but is not working on the case, said: ‘Dubai police have confirmed to me they are following up on the bikers. We cannot rule this out. Three or four years ago, there were four Liverpudlians who went missing and it was four or five months before they got in touch. It turned out they had been sold between organised crime gangs.
‘With organised gangs, it can take months or years before someone gets in touch demanding money.’
He added: ‘Although it’s not the most likely, it’s certainly a scenario the police cannot discount.
‘It’s a possibility. There are many hypotheses but unless someone tells me something concrete, we’ve not got any confirmed sightings from when he got in that taxi.
‘Police identified the taxi driver, but he’s not 100 per cent sure whether the sailor he picked up was Timmy.’