Ex-detective says Jay Slater's disappearance should be treated as murder to preserve evidence

Search teams in Tenerife
-Credit: (Image: Stan Kujawa)

A retired top detective has said he would have treated missing teen Jay Slater's case as a murder inquiry so vital evidence wasn't lost in the crucial first 24 hours.

Steve Gaskin was a detective chief inspector with the Metropolitan Police for more than 25 years and is a criminal psychologist, he has told the Mirror things are "not looking good" for the 19 year old who vanished in Tenerife last Monday.

He says that if he was the SIO - senior investigating officer - when Jay's missing person's report came in to the police, he would immediately have to decide to either treat it as a missing person's inquiry or a murder case. He added that if he wasn't sure he'd always opt to treat it as a murder.

Steve told the Mirror: "If we treat this like a murder from the outset, then if it turns out not to be then nothing's lost, we only have a few hours - people call it the golden hour, but really it's the golden 24 hours - to gather forensic evidence before it's too late."

"I'd want to know what he'd had from breakfast. Why has a 19-year-old bricklayer gone missing, what was he doing there, I would want to know everything about him, who was the last person to see him, check all their backgrounds too, I'd be speaking to police in the UK, has he got a criminal record, here or in Spain, what do we know about him.", reports the Mirror.

Steve, a veteran of the Levi Bellfield investigation, now operates The Crime Lab with his wife Kate Gaskin, a former detective. The couple, drawing on Steve's extensive experience in murder investigations, cater to the public's fascination with true crime.

They not only consult for TV shows like BBC's Silent Witness but also run various crime-related events, including discussions titled 'Inside The Mind of Lucy Letby', 'Why Children Kill', and 'How to Get Away With Murder'.

On the topic of Jay's mysterious vanishing, Steve remarked: "There's a lot of speculation, but I just want to deal with the facts. I'd want to know who did he speak to, who has reported it, what they said, and I'd want to know the background of all these people too."

"Where is the CCTV, have any of these people got criminal records, the whole idea of this is to get a clear factual picture. And I'd want it as quickly as possible. The longer this goes on the more you're likely to suspect a criminal element. It's not looking good after this amount of time."

Reflecting on a similar case to Jay's disappearance, Steve recounted how he managed the search for a 19 year old who went missing in Battersea while he was at Scotland Yard, treating it as a potential murder from the start and demanding hourly updates.

He concluded: "We had four detectives dedicated to it, it's a lot of resources, they were drawn off other cases, but we found him."

Jay Slater, hailing from Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire, hasn't been seen since Monday on the popular holiday island. He was last spotted by an Airbnb property owner and it's believed he missed his bus to catch up with friends in the south of the island, a region favoured by British tourists.

The last known whereabouts of Jay have been traced to Rural del Teno, a rugged area in the western part of the island. The nearest settlement is Santiago del Teide.

He'd been residing in the south of the island in a flat with companions. Lucy Mae, one of his mates, informed police that she received a phone call from Jay at 8.30am.

His worrying message conveyed, "he was lost in the mountains, he wasn't aware of his surroundings, he desperately needed a drink and his phone was on 1%".

Prior to his sudden disappearance, Jay had been engaging in conversations with friends via the social media platform, Snapchat, and appeared to be in a normal and balanced mental state. His mobile ceased working around 8.50am, the last reported location being near a hiking trail, high above the quaint village of Masca.

Steve shares his investigative strategy for situations like Jay's:

Survey as a homicide case straight away

Assuming Jay's case as a murder from the beginning can facilitate immediate resources to investigate, ensuring no critical evidence is overlooked.

Acquire CCTV footage and compile forensic evidence from the place Jay was last seen.

Find out everything associated with Jay - his identity, reason for visiting Tenerife, his activities in the UK, whether he has a criminal history here in Spain or in the UK,.

Identify who were the last people to see or interact with him

What do they know, who are they, do they have a reason to say what they are saying, can their version of events be verified with CCTV, phone records or forensic evidence?

Fly a family member from the UK to Tenerife to help us gather more information about Jay.

Recruit additional resources

A team of dedicated detectives on the case, providing hourly updates on their findings.

Air reconnaissance, drones and a ground search team.

Forensic searches in both Tenerife and the UK

In addition to conducting a forensic investigation at Jay's accommodation, we would also need to examine his home and workplace in the UK for any clues as to why he disappeared.

Fly a Spanish officer to the UK to facilitate communication between the two police teams.

Apply to a British court for access to Jay's phone records

These records could be vital, potentially allowing us to triangulate his location and reveal who he was in contact with in the weeks, days and hours before his disappearance.

After the initial critical 24-hour period

The intensity of the investigation needs to be increased, as the longer it goes on, the less likely a positive outcome becomes.