The landlord suspected of stealing £30,000 from a community thrift fund may have killed himself by jumping off a ferry, it was feared today.
Malcolm Levesconte, 59, vanished from the Royal Oak Pub in Shrewton, Wilts., with the pub Christmas saving fund nine days ago.
He is known to have bought a return ferry ticket to St Malo in France before boarding the vessel in Portsmouth the Sunday before last.
But Wiltshire Police said they were now “increasingly concerned” the landlord, who was suffering financial difficulties, may have jumped off the ferry.
Officers have been working with agencies in France and they have been unable to confirm if Mr Levesconte came off the ferry in St Malo.
Det Sgt Standing, from Salisbury CID, said: “We continue to treat Malcolm Levesconte’s disappearance as a missing person enquiry but at this stage we do have to accept there is a possibility that he did not make it to France and may have taken his own life by jumping into the sea from the ferry.
“I would like to appeal to anyone who has information to come and speak to us – his family are facing the terrible prospect that he may have committed suicide.
“It is therefore imperative that we hear from you if you have heard from Mr Levesconte.”
Residents in Shrewton had spent the year contributing money into the thrift fund which was expected to pay out in time for Christmas last week.
One of the victims, Lee Acton, said he and his family had paid £2,400 into the savings club and had been saving £50 a week to pay for Christmas.
Wiltshire Police have now written to 61 people believed to have contributed to the Royal Oak pub’s Christmas thrift club in Shrewton which went missing at the same time as Mr. Levesconte’s disappearance.
Officers launched an investigation after they were informed of the theft of a substantial amount of money by a member of the public.
Mr Levesconte ran the Royal Oak Pub with partner Jan. The pair worked under brewery chain Enterprise Inns with the pub remaining closed.