Nine Jay Slater theories that have devastated his family in Tenerife as conspiracy dismissed

Jay Slater and his mum Debbie Duncan
-Credit: (Image: No credit)

As the search for Jay Slater reaches its third week, a number of key questions remain unanswered. Despite the official ground search being called off by Spanish police, Jay's heartbroken family continue their own investigations.

Conspiracy theories circulating on social media - many of them totally unproven - have been damaging to those closest to Jay and decried by the family. But at the same time, there are theories to which the family have given credence, with both Jay's father and uncle expressing doubts about the police investigation and speaking about possible criminality involved.

The Manchester Evening News has had reporters on the ground for more than two weeks and here we share their list of nine theories that have widely been discussed, the information that has emerged about them and - in the case of some - how the family have denounced them as conspiracies.

Jay, an apprentice bricklayer from Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire, disappeared after attending a rave in Tenerife. Travelling by car to a rural village, he spent the night at an Airbnb with two British men before disappearing.

The last known location of Jay, who was travelling abroad for the first time, was in the Rural de Teno Park in the north of the island, around an 11-hour walk back to where he was staying.

At around 8.30am on the morning of his disappearance, Jay called his friend Lucy Law to say he was in the middle of nowhere, trying to get home with no water and 1 per cent on his phone battery. That was the last time anyone heard from him.

His last known contact was on the morning of Monday, June 17, as he tried to return to the tourist hotspot of Los Cristianos, where he had been staying with friends Lucy Law and Brad Hargreaves. Despite an extensive two-week search, there has been no sign of Jay.

Did Jay get into trouble at the Airbnb?

A view of the Airbnb Casa Abuela Tina in Masca, Tenerife, where Jay resided prior to his disappearance
A view of the Airbnb Casa Abuela Tina in Masca, Tenerife, where Jay resided prior to his disappearance -Credit:James Manning/PA Wire

One popular theory is that Jay Slater got into some kind of trouble during his stay at the remote Airbnb the night before he went missing, and the men his stayed with. The case took a sinister turn earlier this week when it was revealed that one of the last people to see Jay was a convicted drug dealer. There has been no suggestion by any authority investigating the disappearance that this man, named as Ayub Qassim, is suspected of any wrongdoing.

TV detective Mark Williams-Thomas, who flew to Tenerife to help find Jay, claimed on Sunday that Qassim, 31, who was imprisoned nine years ago for orchestrating a scheme to inundate Wales with Class A drugs, is the mystery 'Jonny Vegas' who drove the missing teen to the deserted holiday rental.

Mark shared a video online updating the public in which he revealed he had spoken with Qassim. Mr Williams-Thomas said: "He told me he was on the (Veronicas) Strip in Playa de las Americas and said that Jay wanted to carry on partying and that he hadn't anywhere to stay, so he (Qassim) invited him back to his rental. In the car they played music all the way, they stopped once to get a can of fizzy drink, and there was three of them in the car, Jay in the back and Qassim's friend in the front."

He continued to explain that once they were at the Airbnb, the unnamed friend went to sleep but Jay proceeded to be given a blanket and phone charger before leaving for to get a bus that 'comes every 10 minutes'. Once at the property, his friend opened the door, and went to the left and went straight to sleep. Jay walked in, and Qassim walked in behind him, went upstairs, and got him a red blanket," Mr Williams-Thomas said."

The TV detective added: "Qassim said 'Yo bro, the sofa's for you there' and he gave him a towel if he needed a shower. Jay also asked for a cigarette and Qassim gave him a Camel cigarette and left it on the side. Jay then asked for a charger and then went into Qassim's friend room, while he was sleeping and got the charger."

Mr Williams-Thomas added that Qassim told him he then went to sleep and was awoken by the sound of the door buzzing. He added: "Qassim opened the door and spoke to a woman and man and they told him to move his car, which he did and he said he could see Jay chatting to a woman."

"He said that after moving the car, he came back and saw Jay had his trainers on and he told Qassim that the woman had said he could get a bus 'every ten minutes'. Qassim said to him "Chill, mate, I'll drop you off later, when I wake up' but he said Jay said 'nah, I need some scran, I'm hungry'.

"Jay said he had been told by the woman the bus to Los Cristianos was every ten minutes and Qassim said there was no bus and added 'do what you like' before going to sleep."

Continuing the video, Mr Williams-Thomas said: "The evidence still strongly supports that Jay left the Airbnb suddenly, walked for thirty minutes before wandering off road on the Monday where he dropped a location ping."

The decision which has 'baffled' Jay's family

Spanish police have already spoken to Qassim and the unnamed pal he was travelling with - after which officers on the ground said the pair were 'irrelevant' to the investigation. Qassim has now returned to his family's flat in east London after he reportedly booked the £40-a-night Tenerife apartment under the name of Ayub Abdul. Speaking earlier this week, he said: "The only comment I have to make is that Jay came to the house alive, and he left the house alive."

"I let the geezer stay at mine because he had nowhere else to go, his friends had all left him. I know Jay, through friends, I'm not going to bring someone back to mine if I don't know them."

"I'm doing the geezer a favour and now my face is all over the news. It's a bit mental. I haven't even done anything."

But the decision has sparked concern from his family, and many on social media, who question why police allowed some of the last people to see him alive to travel back to the UK.

One of Jay Slater's close family members has said that he has 'been thinking third party involvement from the start' as the search for the missing teenagers goes into its third week. Glen Duncan, the youngster's uncle, joined other family members in a renewed search for the 19-year-old from Lancashire.

Mr Duncan said: "It baffled me from day one. How can you say they have no relevance when they are two of the last people to see him alive. It doesn't make sense. I can't get my head around it."

"It's like if one of you guys going missing now and letting the rest of you fly home and say we're not bothered about it. It's a massive let down. It's one of them too - you don't want to give them a hammering. I can't step on their toes."

Jay Slater with Lucy Law
Jay Slater with Lucy Law -Credit:Instagram

Jay's friend Lucy Law, who travelled with him to the Canary Islands, was one of the last people to speak to him around 8am on the morning he went missing. In an interview on July 18, Ms Law said: "Jay was obviously thinking he would be able to get home from there. But then in the morning he's set off walking, using his Maps on his phone and ended up in the middle of mountains with nothing around. He rang me at about 8 o'clock morning saying his phone was on 1 percent. He said 'I don't know where I am, I need a drink and my phone is about to die'..."

"The bus stop was right next to the house. So obviously if he'd gone to get the bus he wouldn't have got lost because it [the stop] was visible from the front door."

Jay's uncle has said the family has since had scant contact with Lucy.

Jay's family suspect 'third party involvement from the start'

Jay Slater's parents Warren Slater and Debbie Duncan leave a Tenerife police station after spending several hours liaising with police
Jay Slater's parents Warren Slater and Debbie Duncan leave a Tenerife police station after spending several hours liaising with police -Credit:No credit

Mr Duncan has branded every passing day as 'just torture' as the devastated family waits for news. Speaking about the online trolls spreading horrifying rumours, Mr Duncan said: "I'm not on social media or anything so I can just block it out. It's the world we live in. If he's gone on a trail like a path like this and he's got lost there or fallen down I think he would have been found by now."

But Mr Duncan told of his suspicions, saying: "I've been thinking third party involvement from the start. There's just some things that have already been out there."

Yet Mr Williams-Thomas ruled out the idea that Jay has been kidnapped, despite his mum Debbie previously saying she believed that was what had happened to him. He added: "We have no evidence at this stage to say there was any third-party criminal involvement in Jay's disappearance."

"However, there are still a number of outstanding actions and therefore we still remain open minded to the possibility of this changing. The evidence strongly supports that Jay walked off and was walking for at least 30 minutes off the road on a track before he last had contact with friends, with a very accurate location pin drop at 8.50am."

"I would make an appeal for landowners in the area of Teno Rural Park to check any outbuildings and land that they have and hope that some further searches will continue by volunteers in the area not yet searched."

'Jay was scared of someone or something' - and a debunked distressed video

Ex British detective Mark Thomas Williams, pictured on a visit to the Veronicas nightlife strip in Las Americas, where Jay had been believed to be sighted
Ex British detective Mark Thomas Williams, pictured on a visit to the Veronicas nightlife strip in Las Americas, where Jay had been believed to be sighted -Credit:Stan Kujawa

However, Mark Williams-Thomas, who has probed a string of high-profile missing persons cases, has claimed that the teenager would have been 'feeling scared' when he left the property on the Monday morning. In a video filmed earlier this week (July 2) and posted to X, formerly Twitter, the investigator said: "We've received information that would suggest that Jay left the rental property feeling scared and he would not return to the rental, even though that would have been the most sensible course of action."

"If he has wandered off I just can't see how he would wander all the way down there. When you're lost you stick to a path. I don't know if he was afraid of someone or something," added Mr Duncan, as theories circulate that Jay was 'scared' after leaving the Airbnb.

"It's so easy to get lost down there," said Mr Duncan, of the huge and unforgiving search site, as he endured several hours under a scorching 25C temperature as they searched the valley close to the village of Masca, at the heart of the mountainous terrain in Tenerife where Jay vanished. "There was a group of us and you can't see anybody. It got to a point where I wasn't even looking for my nephew, I was just trying to find my own way out to safety."

But Mr Williams-Thomas has moved to debunk another theory after a 'distressing' video began doing the rounds online. People had begun to claim the clip showed Jay, the Mirror reported. Mr Williams-Thomas says the video is not recent - and therefore cannot be the missing teen. He said: "Lots of people are contacting us about a distressing video that is circulating."

"The video was first posted on a social media site nine years ago and therefore cannot be Jay Slater."

The £12,000 Rolex mystery

The former detective has claimed that Jay had 'posted a Snapchat saying that he'd taken a £12,000 Rolex from a person'. The investigator said: "We've received information that would suggest that Jay left the rental property feeling scared and he would not return to the rental, even though that would have been the most sensible course of action."

"We've been unable to validate this in terms of a reported theft", Mark Williams-Thomas said in another video. "However, friends of Jay said he would not make this up and the watch was subject of later conversation between the friends."

But Qassim has said that there had been 'no problems' with Jay amid reports that the teenager had told friends he had 'taken a £12,000 Rolex watch' and 'left the rental property feeling scared'. Qassim said: "If I'd fallen out with him would he even come to mine?"

"I don't know if he had beef elsewhere because I don't know him that well, I only know him through friends.'"

Jay's past coming back to haunt the case

In one of the latest twists to the case, former Metropolitan Police officer Mark Williams-Thomas now claims in a video posted online his disappearance has underworld connections. Mr Williams-Thomas said further digging into the investigation has opened up an established criminal network with links to drugs, violent crime and theft.

In a video posted on X, he said: "As part of this investigation we have sought to speak with all of the people Jay had contact with whilst in Tenerife. The result of this digging has opened up an established criminal network with links to drugs, violent crime and theft. At this stage I cannot expand any further on what we now know."

"I'm unable to say if this network has anything to do with Jay's disappearance but remain open-minded as we continue to investigate."

But that's not the only mention of criminality that had plagued the disappearance. Jay was part of an gang of eight that split the skull of Tom Hilton, then aged 17, during an attack with a machete and an axe in Rishton, Lancashire, back in August, 2021.

Details of Mr Hilton's attack were widely shared online after previous articles had been uncovered and re-posted on social media, amid the search efforts to locate missing Jay. In court he described the gang of eight as a 'pack of wolves' and said he was forced to run for his life through the woods before they eventually caught up with him.

Judge Philip Parry at the time told the court that the group had 'behaved disgracefully' during the 'violent disorder' adding: "You should all eight be thoroughly ashamed of yourselves but I am not at all convinced you are. I hope for the sake of all your families, the public and the people who have offered you jobs and apprenticeships and the sort that you all grow up. Every one of you deserves to be sent to youth detention."

At Preston Crown Court, Jay was handed an eight month community order for violent disorder with 25 days rehabilitation activities and 150 hours unpaid work, LancsLive reported at the time.

Still, Mr Hilton has urged people to 'help find him' and 'have some respect' as the major search continued. The victim, who was left with serious wounds to his skull, shoulders and legs in the shocking attack, has since hit back at internet trolls and urged people to 'help find him' in a public post on social media.

He wrote: "Whoever is writing on these TikToks, give it a rest. This young lad's missing and his family's heartbroken. Put yourself in their shoes. Stop talking nonsense on social media and get this lad found, mentioning my name all this and that. Have some respect and help find this boy and get him back to his family."

Jay's mum Debbie Duncan also told LancsLive early on in the search about how he was once ambushed and beaten up by gang members when he was 12 years-old. The three men jumped out of a car and targeted Jay and his friend before witnesses intervened.

Ms Duncan told LancsLive: "He was really shook up and had a massive lump on his head. He said they were kicking them when they were on the ground."

Ms Duncan also described how she feared Jay had been taken by the men, when in fact the then 12-year-old was hiding under a car. She said: "People are saying there are gangs of youths in Oswaldtwistle, but I know Jay wasn't involved in that. He had only been out of the house for about half an hour."

'We ain't drug mules,' says Jay's pal

No caption
Brad, the best friend of missing Jay Slater, speaks to ITV This Morning -Credit:ITV

One of Jay Slater's friends has hit back at conspiracy theories circulating on social media. Brad Hargreaves was one of Jay Slater's pals who travelled out with him to Tenerife to attend the NRG music festival - and has found himself targeted by trolls on the internet sending him abuse.

Mr Hargreaves appeared to dismiss a theory that has been widely spread on social media that Tenerife's drug scene could have played a role in Jay's disappearance.

Hitting back, he wrote a message on Instagram in which he took aim at the conspiracy theories circulating, the Independent has reported. "Thinkin I'm involved in it all is beyond me," he wrote.

"We've been mates for years, came on our first holiday together and unfortunately this has happened. We ain't drug mules or whatever.... peple [sic] need to know the facts before talking s*** on the internet..."

Was Jay's phone thrown to where it was last tracked?

A former British Army officer believed Jay Slater's mobile thrown 'may have been thrown' prior to his disappearance. His phone last 'pinged' somewhere in the Parque Rural de Teno nature reserve, where Spanish police focused their search before they officially called off their search last Sunday.

A journalist covering Jay's case in Tenerife, who had spoken to Spanish police and sleuths on the ground investigating his disappearance, has now highlighted a new theory that could explain why the teen's phone last pinged in a dangerous mountainous area. After having a conversation with an ex-British Army officer, reporter Nick Pisa believes Jay's phone may have been thrown, the Mirror reports.

Pisa said the mobile's GPS location could only be possible "if the phone was thrown" into the terrain. He told GB News: "We're not obviously being kept up to speed, but [the former officer] did tell me that he thought where the ping came from was rather surprising because it was really steep to get to, and it was covered in undergrowth and cacti."

"He said to get there you'd have to need a machete. Or he suggested, someone had thrown the phone into that growth."

What is the GoFundMe money being used for?

Jay Slater and his mum Debbie Duncan
Jay Slater and his mum Debbie Duncan -Credit:No credit

A GoFundMe created by Lucy Law to 'get Jay Slater home' has now received more than £50,000 in donations as of this evening (July 7), however was the subject of much speculation online and in social media groups, with people questioning what the money would be used for. Jay's mum Debbie Duncan, who has vowed to 'never give up' on her son, was added as a beneficiary on the fundraiser and was forced to issue a public update.

On June 23, she explained that no money had been withdrawn from the fundraiser and that friends and family had so far funded the trip to Tenerife themselves. After that, Debbie shared that the money would be used 'to support the mountain rescue teams' and volunteers, and to 'cover accommodation and food expenses' as the family had to extend their stay in Tenerife, as well as fly other members of the family out to help search.

Since then, there have been arguments between the family and one TikToker who went out to Tenerife to search for Jay. The social media creator claimed he had never been given fundraiser money by the family, confirming his intention to return home, while the family said they needed 'experts not hikers' to help.

What Jay Slater's family has said about theories circulating online and what are the police doing?

One of the most recent statement's from Jay Slater's mother addressed the conspiracy theories. She spoke through British overseas missing persons charity LBT Global, after the Tenerife search for her missing son has so far yielded no results. On July 2, Debbie Duncan said: "We are a very close family and are absolutely devastated about his disappearance. Words cannot describe the pain and agony we are experiencing. He is our beautiful boy with his whole life ahead of him and we just want to find him..."

"We are aware of the conspiracy theories and speculation on social media and some websites, and can only describe this as vile, the negative comments are extremely distressing to our family."

Ms Duncan thanked Spanish authorities who have 'worked tirelessly' in the search on the ground, and 'continue with their investigations' behind the scenes. But her brother and Jay's uncle, Glen Duncan, has raised concerns about just what the police are doing.

In the past few days, Mr Duncan has said: ""I don't know what the police are taking seriously. I don't know if they're following up every single lead. I feel like marching down there myself and bursting into the police station. What are they actually doing now, the police, I mean they're not searching with the helicopter are they? Are they doing door to door inquiries or sitting there looking at CCTV images?"

Warren Slater, Jay's dad, has too voiced the family's frustration about the investigation. He said: "Tell me where I look, I can only go off the last sighting, the woman in that restaurant saw him going the wrong way. Which human being lets a young boy go the wrong way? Everything stinks. It's just a riddle and I don't know the answer."