Jay Slater's family 'heartbroken' as search for missing teenager in Tenerife called off by police

Police have called off their search for missing British teenager Jay Slater in Tenerife.

The Civil Guard on Sunday said the near fortnight-long search, which has involved sniffer dogs, a helicopter and mountain rescue experts, had been brought to an end.

They said officers would continue to act on any tip-offs or other information that came in - but the active work that has been ongoing since June 17 when the 19-year-old apprentice bricklayer was reported missing would now cease.

Confirmation of the major development came less than 24 hours after a “last push” operation involving around 30 police, firefighters and Civil Protection along with a handful of volunteers, failed to find any trace of the 19-year-old from Oswaldtwistle in Lancashire.

They had focused their search near the mountain village of Masca where he was last seen.Mr Slater’s father expressed disappointment at the number of volunteers who joined the mass search that authorities called for on Friday.

A Civil Guard spokeswoman said on Sunday: “The search operation is no longer active, but the case is still open and there are several lines of investigation.”

A family source told The Sun Mr Slater’s parents and family had been left “heartbroken and devastated”, by the decision.

They said his parents and brother - who are all still in Tenerife - are feeling a "sense of bewilderment".

Close family friend, Rachel Hargreaves, who is in the island helping them find the 19-year-old, said family and friends will continue their search, the Mirror reported.

She told the newspaper: "Nothing has changed. We will continue to search for him."

A search operation for missing teenager Jay Slater has been called off (ES Composite)
A search operation for missing teenager Jay Slater has been called off (ES Composite)

A source close to the investigation added: “The daily operation which has been going on in and around Masca close to where Jay was last seen has been brought to an end.

“If any information comes in that merits a new search though it will be acted upon.

“My understanding is Jay’s parents have been informed of what obviously is a major development.

“Nothing of any relevance was found during yesterday’s large-scale search.”

Mr Slater had attended the NRG music festival with two friends before his disappearance, and his last known location was the Rural de Teno Park in the north of the Canary Island - which was about an 11-hour walk from his accommodation.

He was last seen by a local resident in Masca just after 8am walking northwards along the road out of the village after stopping to ask her for directions.

His phone last pinged near to a look-out point where search teams gathered on Saturday to begin the last day of the search operation.

Friend Lucy Law said Mr Slater had called her shortly after he was last seen to say he was thirsty, had cut his leg on a cactus, had no water and just one per cent battery on his phone.

A search was focussed on the village of Masca, Tenerife, for missing British teenager Jay Slater (James Manning/PA) (PA Wire)
A search was focussed on the village of Masca, Tenerife, for missing British teenager Jay Slater (James Manning/PA) (PA Wire)

Another close friend claimed he heard him sliding on rocks in their last phone conversation at around the same time.

The Civil Guard says the “parallel” investigation by police investigators which they are not sharing information on is continuing despite the suspension of the “visible” mountain search in and around Masca.

Cipriano Martin, head of the Civil Guard’s Greim mountain rescue unit, said on Saturday from the search scene that the two men Jay spent time with at their rented Airbnb in Masca had been ruled out of the inquiry.

He said: “We’re mountain specialists and we’re in charge of searching here, and it’s the Civil Guard investigators who have been responsible for the investigation, those men have been spoken to and they don’t have any relevance whatsoever for the case.”

Asked to clarify his words later in the day a Civil Guard press officer said: “What he was saying was that the investigators have not found anything pointing to those two people being linked to the disappearance.”

The Civil Guard declined to say on Sunday whether it was actively investigating whether Jay’s disappearance was linked to an altercation outside a club in the southern Tenerife resort of Los Cristianos after a wealthy Eastern European man had his designer watch stolen.

One of Mr Slater’s friends has reportedly told the police the watch theft could be linked to the teenager going missing.

The police force has consistently said “nothing has been ruled out” but continues to define the case as a missing persons inquiry and not a criminal probe.

A GoFundMe appeal Get Jay Slater Home was set up by Ms Law and had raised more than £43,000 as the police search came to an end.

Mr Slater's mother, Debbie Duncan, travelled to the island as the search took place.

She said the money raised online would be used to support mountain rescue teams, and to cover her own accommodation and food costs.