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Jay Slater’s family in ‘torture’ as search focuses on gorge in ‘treacherous’ conditions | UK News

Jay Slater’s uncle has said the 19-year-old’s disappearance on Tenerife has been “just torture” for the family, but they are not giving up hope.

Glen Duncan, 41, was among a group of nine family members and local volunteers who spent Saturday searching for Mr Slater, who has not been seen since 17 June.

Mr Duncan, along with Mr Slater’s father Warren Slater and his older brother Zak, walked the paths and scrambled up and down the slopes of Barranco Juan Lopez, a gorge close to where Mr Slater’s phone last pinged.

The area has previously been searched by police helicopters and drones but local hiker Juan Garcia, who led the latest foot search with his dog Caperucita, said it was a “labyrinth” and “like looking for a needle in a haystack”.

Mr Slater’s uncle described the “treacherous” conditions as he returned from the search in searing heat and said “it’s easy to get lost” but believes if Mr Slater had fallen, he would’ve been found by now.

pic from Henry Vaughan of the area being searched
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The area being searched by Mr Slater’s family

pic from Henry Vaughan of the area being searched to go with 06/07 copy
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The family and volunteers have faced ‘treacherous’ conditions in the remote search area

He said he is close to his nephew, a “typical, normal 19-year-old lad” who was family oriented and had a big circle of male and female friends.

“He’s just a typical great young lad with a massive circle of friends and was looking forward to coming here,” he said.

Asked how the family are coping, he said: “It’s just torture.”

But he said they are not giving up hope and Mr Slater’s mother Debbie Duncan “is not going anywhere”.

“You’ve got to cling on because we don’t know,” he said. “He’s not been found so you’ve got to cling on.

“I’m sure Madeleine McCann’s parents still cling on after all these years that she’ll be found somewhere on the other side of the world.”

Read more:
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Slater family hits back at TikTok sleuth

Pic:Europa Press/AP
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Police in Tenerife ended their land search for Mr Slater last week. Pic: Europa Press/AP

Mr Duncan said the family is frustrated by the lack of communication from police on the island, adding: “It’s getting to the point where you’re becoming angry.”

“Who knows what the police are doing out here,” he said. “They don’t give anything away.”

He said he hopes they are “following every single lead”, but asked: “What are they actively doing? Because they’re not here.

“Are they making door to door enquiries, are they studying CCTV footage? I don’t know.”

Police in Tenerife called off their search for Mr Slater on 30 June after 12 days, but told Sky News his family can bring in their own search and rescue teams to look for the missing teenager.

The hunt in the northern village of Masca, near Mr Slater’s last-known location, took in a steep rocky area, ravines and trails.

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TikTok star pulls out of search for Jay Slater

Helicopters, drones and search dogs were deployed to find the apprentice bricklayer from Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire, but without success.

The Guardia Civil have said the investigation is still ongoing but won’t disclose their lines of enquiry.

Mr Slater’s family previously told Sky News they want to use some of the £50,000 of donations through a crowdfunding page to pay for specialist search and rescue teams likely to cost thousands of pounds – but were waiting for permission from the authorities.

The Guardia Civil has told Sky News search teams from other places can come “without any problem” to collaborate with the search.

They said they must notify the Guardia Civil “for good management of information and resources” and they have not yet had a request.

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Jay Slater’s last known movements

Mr Slater travelled to Tenerife with friends on 13 June to attend a music festival at Papagayo nightclub in the southern resort of Playa de las Americas on 16 June.

After he left the event, he got in a car early the next morning and travelled to a small Airbnb in Masca with two men, who police said were “not relevant” to the case.

Map showing Jay Slater's last known location on Tenerife, Masca, Los Carrizales where police are searching and Los Cristianos, where Jay's accomodation was
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Jay was last seen in Masca – hours away from his accommodation

At 8.30am on 17 June, he called his friend Lucy Law, telling her he missed his bus and had tried to walk back to his accommodation.

He said he had “cut his leg” on a cactus, had “no idea where he was”, was “lost in the mountains” and his phone battery was on “1%”, Ms Law said. Shortly afterwards, his battery ran out and he was reported missing at 9.04am.

His last known location was in the Rural de Teno Park, near Masca.

A local cafe owner previously told Sky News Mr Slater tried to catch a bus back to Los Cristianos, where he was staying.

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‘Jay Slater asked me for bus times’

Ofelia Medina Hernandez said she spoke to the teenager at 8am on the day of his disappearance, telling him a bus was due at 10am – but he set off walking.

She said she later drove past him “walking fast”.

British prisoner of war John Harding used as a ‘punching bag’ over days of torture in Ukraine | World News

A freed British prisoner of war who was held by Russian-backed separatists has told Sky News how he was tortured over several days.

John Harding said he was used as a “punching bag” by the guards in a holding facility in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine.

The centre was run by the MGB, which he said was the equivalent of Russia’s FSB, formerly the KGB.

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He said he was held there for about nine days in a small cell about 4ft by 6ft, between being taken to the prosecutor’s office for questioning.

Mr Harding was one of five Britons freed in recent days in a prisoner swap with Russia. He is now back in the UK after his release with the help of the Ukrainians and the Saudis.

Shaun Pinner (centre) and Aiden Aslin (right). John Harding has his thumb up
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Mr Harding, left, with fellow POWs Shaun Pinner and Aiden Aslin on a plane after their release

Mr Harding had been in Ukraine teaching its soldiers how to use first aid kits.

When the Russians crossed the border in the February invasion, they were near his base and he ended up in the Azovstal steel complex, where he and his colleagues fled because it was a good defensive position with underground tunnels.

They were surrounded after the site was besieged by Russian forces and famously held out there for a number of weeks before surrendering in May due to running very low on ammunition.

He said he was originally taken to a prisoner of war camp for about four days before being transported to the holding facility where he suffered days of torture.

Mr Harding said he suffered a fractured sternum, damage to his coccyx, broken ribs and neurological damage to his hand in the holding centre in Donetsk.

John Harding pictured during a court hearing in Donetsk in August
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Mr Harding at a court hearing in Donetsk in August

He said he was beaten up about five to six times “for fun”.

“Every time we left for the prosecutor’s office we got beaten up.”

In the worst attack, which lasted about 30 minutes, he said he was handcuffed with his arms behind his back and was pushed to the floor.

He said at least four guards kicked him in the chest, ribs, kidneys and in the face.

“One man stood on my hips and jumped up and down,” he said.

John Harding pictured in a courtroom in Donetsk in August. Pic: AP
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Pic: AP

He added: “I think I used to quite annoy the guards because I tend not to scream when I’m beaten and I think that annoyed them.”

Mr Harding admitted he feared for his life several times.

“I had a feeling… if they kicked you to death they wouldn’t be that bothered. I thought it was heading that way.

“If you are going to be killed best to get it over with. They enjoyed it, the tormentors.”

He said he was given “very little food and water” and not allowed any exercise during his time there.

The cell had no windows so he never knew what time of day it was.

Mr Harding said after about nine days in detention he was moved to a civilian prison where he was kept for months until his release.

He said the treatment in the jail was not as bad as that which he faced in the detention centre.