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Missing teenager Jay Slater admitted he stole a £12,000 Rolex watch just hours before he disappeared, an ex-detective has claimed.

Mark Williams-Thomas, who is unofficially investigating the 19-year-old’s disappearance, alleged Slater’s friends said he had sent them a message in the early hours of June 17.

The message supposedly included a clear message showing Slater admit to stealing the luxury item.

Williams-Thomas, who also probed Nicola Bulley’s experience, claimed Jay was headed in a Seat Leon hire car to the rented Casa Abuela Tina Airbnb.

The former detective was unable to verify when the alleged theft took place.

However, he was assured by Slater’s friends that the apprentice bricklayer would not have made the claim up.

Williams-Thomas said: “We’ve been unable to validate this in terms of reported thefts.

“Friends of Jay said he would not make this up and the watch was subject to later conversation between the friends.”

He added: “We’ve received information that would suggest Jay left the rental property feeling scared.

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“He would not return to the rental even though that would have been the most sensible course of action. We continue to investigate this aspect.”

However, Williams-Thomas also cautioned people against reading into inaccurate information circulating on social media.

He said: “His disappearance has attracted worldwide media attention and extensive coverage on social media.

“This has led to massive speculation on social media with theories, at times, very misleading with inaccurate information.

“What people lose sight of or don’t consider is Jay’s family and close friends read a lot of what has been posted online and in the media.

“Some of it has been unfair and unkind to a family who are in total shock and despair.”

Williams-Thomas' latest intervention comes as Slater’s mother Debbie Duncan issued a statement about the Spanish police’s decision to call off the search.

She said: “My son, Jay Dean Slater, came to the holiday island of Tenerife on June 13 with his friend to attend a music festival.

“On June 17, after not returning to his apartment, he was reported as a missing person.

“Jay is a normal guy who is in his third year of an apprenticeship, and he is a very popular young man with a large circle of friends. We are a very close family and are absolutely devastated about his disappearance.

“Words cannot describe the pain and agony we are experiencing.

“He is our beautiful boy with his whole life ahead of him and we just want to find him. We do not have any information on his whereabouts.

“The Guardia Civil have worked tirelessly up in the mountains where Jay's last phone call was traced. They conducted a land search for 12 days which involved every resource they had available.

“Although the land search ended, the Spanish police still continue with their investigations into why Jay had travelled to the location so far away from his accommodation.

“We offer our sincere thanks to the Spanish authorities who continue to follow lines of inquiries.

“We would like to say to the press/news/reporters, that although we do not want to lose the momentum of Jay’s disappearance, we really would like to maintain our privacy and crucially let the Spanish police get on with their investigations without hindrance from press.

“We are aware of the conspiracy theories and speculation on social media and some websites, and can only describe this as vile, the negative comments are extremely distressing to our family.

“We also embrace the love and support we have received from across the globe. It has not gone unnoticed, especially his home town in Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire.

“As a family, we would like the world to respect our privacy at this present time.”

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