Dubai: Mystery of UK sailor who vanished 10 years ago remains unsolved, mother seeks closure

Massive manhunt was launched for Timmy MacColl, but he was not found


Mazhar Farooqui

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Timmy’s mother Sheena MacColl. Photo: Supplied
Timmy’s mother Sheena MacColl. Photo: Supplied

Published: Thu 26 May 2022, 7:11 AM

Last updated: Thu 26 May 2022, 7:26 AM

On Friday, 10 years would have passed since the disappearance of Timmy MacColl, but there are still no answers to what happened to him.

On May 27, 2012, the 27-year-old British sailor stepped out of a café in Dubai and took a cab for Port Rashid where his warship HMS Westminster was docked. He was never seen again.

A decade on, the mystery still remains unsolved.

In April 2014, the father-of-three was officially declared dead, presumed drowned, by the UK’s Royal Navy, despite objections from his family.

Ahead of the 10th anniversary of Timmy’s disappearance, his mother Sheena MacColl has demanded a fresh probe into the incident, claiming someone knows what happened to her son.

“We still haven’t got closure. I believe there are people who know what happened to Timmy. I do not believe he fell in the water as there was a safety net around his ship,” Sheena, 58, told Khaleej Times over the phone from the UK.

Sheena MacColl
Sheena MacColl

“Timmy’s children are grown up now. They need answers. There are many loose ends...Someone knows something but has not come forward for whatever reason...I know Timmy. He was my son. He would not have put us through this if he was still alive. I’d appeal to anyone who has information to come forward. The Royal Navy thinks he died by drowning. If this were true, then where is his body? His body was never found,” added Sheena who work as a sales assistant.

The Leading Seaman from Scotland was last seen getting into a cab outside the Rock Bottom Café, then located in Bur Dubai, around 2am on May 27, 2012.

The café has now relocated.

Timmy’s shipmates said he was headed to his ship. However, he never made it on board.

Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied

The Royal Navy reported him missing the same day. An investigation was subsequently launched by Dubai Police and UK authorities.

Hours of CCTV footage was examined. The cabbie, who picked Timmy, was questioned and the port area was searched by divers, dogs and helicopter for days.

When the massive manhunt yielded no result, a British Royal Navy minesweeper, equipped with hi-tech cameras and sensors was pressed into service along the coastline, but nothing turned up.

Over the next few weeks, scores of leads were chased but none panned out.

In June 2012, Timmy’s wife Rachel, then pregnant with daughter Eriskay, came to Dubai with Sheena seeking answers. But with the case making little headway, they went back. Rachel returned to Dubai in January 2013. But this time too, she couldn’t find any new information.

In April 2014, Timmy was declared dead by the UK Royal Navy. They believed he fell into the sea while boarding the ship and drowned, and that his body was dragged away after being caught in the propeller blade of another vessel. However, Timmy’s body was never found and his mother says she’s yet to get closure.

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