Sarm Heslop: Police push to search boyfriend’s yacht as parents blocked from flying by covid restrictions

Detectives say they will apply for warrant after Ryan Bane blocked access to luxury catamaran where 41-year-old was reportedly last seen alive

Colin Drury
Tuesday 06 April 2021 10:02 BST

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Police in the US Virgin Islands hunting for missing Sarm Heslop say they are renewing efforts to gain access to her boyfriend’s luxury yacht where she was reportedly last seen alive.

The former flight attendant, 41, vanished from Ryan Bane’s catamaran last month while it was moored off the islet of St John.

But the super-rich American – who first reported her missing from the boat – has so far blocked island detectives from searching the 47ft vessel.

Police spokesman Toby Derima said: “He’s still refusing us boarding the boat and we are still working to see what angles we can use.

Speaking to the Sunday People, he added: “We could get a search warrant so he won’t be able to say no but would need to have probable cause.”

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Asked what police need to show probable cause, he added: “That I won’t get into...If we give that out people could take steps to make sure we don’t get it.”

Mr Bane, 44, reported Ms Heslop missing in the early hours of 8 March, telling police he had woken up at 2am to find his girlfriend missing from the boat.

Officers say he is not a suspect, but both they and the FBI want to talk to him. They have already charged the 44-year-old with obstructing law enforcement agents who did briefly board his boat in the immediate aftermath of her disappearance.

Ms Heslop’s friends said they are unable to understand why Mr Bane would not allow a search of the boat to take place.

Her family, meanwhile, have said they are becoming increasingly concerned. Mother and father, Brenda and Peter, said they were desperate to fly out to the Caribbean archipelago but cannot because of coronavirus restrictions.

“If we could travel we would. We want to be helping with the search and we dream of being able to wrap our arms round our darling daughter,” the pair, from Hertfordshire, said.

Ms Heslop – who had previously been based in Southampton while working for defunct airline FlyBe – was living in Spain in her late 30s when one of her friends suggested she sail across the Atlantic.

She arrived on the Caribbean island of Grenada in December 2019 where she eventually met Mr Ryan.

“I think she fell in love with him,” one friend said. “They literally did everything together.”

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