Murder fears for British round-the-world yachtsman after he disappears at sea

Family of missing man demand answers from crewmate who is arrested in the Seychelles

The family of a British round-the-world yachtsman who vanished in the middle of the Indian Ocean fear he may have been murdered at sea.

Sean Terry, 48, a quantity surveyor from Watford, took early retirement to sail solo around the world but was last heard from on 18 June. A week later, on 25 June, his 40ft yacht Finnegan was sailed into the Seychelles by Stefan Pokorny, a scuba diver who had joined Mr Terry on board. Mr Pokorny has been arrested in connection with Mr Terry's disappearance and is due to appear in court on Thursday, a Seychelles police spokesman confirmed yesterday.

Judith Middleton, a spokeswoman for the family in South Africa, last night rejected suggestions Mr Terry might have wanted to kill himself by throwing himself off the yacht.

She told The Independent that Mr Terry was looking forward to spending Christmas with his family and had offered to sail his niece to Cape Town on completion of his journey.

"There is so much in this story that doesn't add up. Pokorny came on board the yacht as an experienced and strong diver and the family wants to know why he did not do more to rescue Sean," she said.

She added: "He told police that Sean got angry and jumped off the boat, but that does not add up. He told police it happened at night and in bad weather but other ships in the area said the weather was fine.

"It is very unusual. This man's evidence is critical and we need to know more than we have been told. He is the only person who knows what happened. The family are asking what he did to help Sean. The man-over-board button was not pressed and the satellite communication equipment was not used to radio for help. The family are desperate for answers."

Mr Terry's two laptops, which he had used to contact family and friends, were missing when the yacht arrived in the Seychelles, Ms Middleton said.

Mr Terry and Mr Pokorny had sailed from Sri Lanka to the Maldives and then onto the remote Chagos Islands before setting sail for Madagascar on 14 June. The crew of an Italian-owned yacht claimed they last had radio contact with Mr Terry on 18 June, around 300 miles west of the Chagos Islands.

Mr Terry's brother, who lives in Spain, has flown to the Seychelles along with his brother-in-law Robin Philips, while his elderly parents and sisters wait for news at home in Cape Town, South Africa. Mr Terry was born in Britain but grew up in South Africa. He returned to Britain to work in Watford as a quantity surveyor for the engineering firm Edmund Nuttall. A Foreign Office spokesman said they were providing the family with consular assistance.