INTO THIN AIR
Man goes missing on Malta and disappearing woman baffles West Yorkshire Police...
A year ago, the last time Phyllis Stewart saw her husband Tom, he was climbing up an orange tree and clambering over the 8ft (2.4m) high wall of a Maltese hospital. He had no money, phone, passport or medication for his type-two diabetes. Since then, there have been only a couple of possible sightings of him on the tiny island – despite the fact that, at 6ft 5in (196cm), he would stand out in any crowd. The 60-year-old had voluntarily entered Mount Carmel Hospital, which deals with mental health, on 21 May 2016, under the advice of a doctor, but abandoned it two days later. “He kept asking to go for a walk in the hospital’s garden,” said Phyllis, 69. “Then he turned to me and said, ‘This isn’t helping me. I can’t be here’.” Moments later, despite her pleas, he was over the wall and gone. The Maltese police’s investigation into his whereabouts is still ongoing and one of the officers involved has described it as one of the force’s most “mysterious” cases. “I think he’s confused,” said Phyllis. “He worked with a lot of Bulgarian people at a warehouse in Luton and got on well with them. There’s a big community of them here and I think he might be with them.”
The couple had been together for 26 years and married for the past 10. They came to Malta for the first time on honeymoon in 2000 and retired there 18 months ago. Phyllis said there were no marital difficulties and that, while Tom was under stress at the time of his disappearance, he was not suicidal. “We’ve put up posters in lots of places. I’ve been on the television and in the newspapers and set up a Facebook page,” she said. “I’ve spoken to walking groups and asked that they keep an eye out for him. I’m offering a reward of 1,000 euros to anyone who can find him.”
When people take their own lives in Malta, their bodies are usually discovered, not least because there are few deserted areas on the island, which is less than 17 miles (27km) long and only nine miles (14km) wide, with a population of 420,000 – although those numbers swell considerably during the tourist season. The two other islands in the Maltese archipelago, Gozo and Comino, are even smaller, and the bodies of those who drown are usually returned to shore by the sea.
There were two possible sightings of Tom in the first few days after his disappearance. One of the couple’s neighbours says he spoke to Tom at a bus stop and a member of the public claims he spotted him in a supermarket. But there has been nothing since then. BBC News, 23 May 2017.
Svitlana Krasnoselska, originally from Ukraine, was last seen near her home in the village of Micklefield, near Leeds, at 5am on 3 April. She has lived in the UK for 12 years, and is married with a grownup daughter. West Yorkshire Police said her bank accounts had not been touched and it was completely out of character for the 40-year-old mother to go missing. Specialist search teams with dogs and mountain rescue officers searched a quartermile radius around her home – including in a landfill site, disused quarry and cave systems – but found no useful leads. “It’s really unusual for people to vanish without a trace,” said Det Supt Lisa Atkinson, five weeks after the disappearance. BBC News, 8 May 2017.
“It’s really unusual for people to vanish without a trace”
LEFT: Tom Stewart went missing in Malta over a year ago and has not been seen since. ABOVE: Svitlana Krasnoselska vanished without trace in April 2017.