The attorney for Ryan Bane, the American boyfriend of the missing British woman Sarm Heslop, who vanished from the U.S. Virgin Islands in March, is pushing back against police who said they’ve "lost track" of the whereabouts of his client, who has not been accused of wrongdoing.
"I can state that I personally advised law enforcement of Mr. Bane’s movements while in the Territory and about his departure from the U.S. Virgin Islands," the attorney, David Cattie told Fox News Thursday. "I further advised law enforcement that if Mr. Bane’s presence is legally required in the Territory, he will return upon such a demand."
Bane, 44, has not been charged with any crime in connection with Heslop’s disappearance, but police recently described him as a "person of interest" in statements to the media.
The statement comes after the Virgin Islands Police Department publicly asked Bane to contact investigators.
"We have been keeping track of Ryan Bane, but right now we don’t know where he is," spokesman Toby Derima told reporters last week. "I appeal to him now to contact us. I want to appeal to his conscience, to let us know what happened the night Sarm disappeared."
"As this is an ongoing investigation, the Virgin Islands Police Department maintains that we would like to interview Ryan Bane, as he was the last person to have contact with Ms. Heslop," Derima told Fox News on Friday.
But a group that calls itself "Friends of Heslop" insisted to Fox News that police do know of Bane's whereabouts.
"We are aware that Ryan Bane is no longer in an area under the VIPD jurisdiction, however, we believe his location is known to police. The investigation is ongoing and we continue to do everything we can to assist," the group told Fox News.
Cattie said Thursday that "Mr. Bane had nothing to do with Sarm’s disappearance and remains heartbroken that she is missing."
Heslop, 41, was last seen in public at a bar with Bane around 10 p.m. on March 7. He reported her missing from his 47-foot catamaran, the Siren Song, in Frank Bay, St. John, at around 2:30 a.m. on March 8, according to local police. They have also said they have not confirmed whether she ever returned to the boat that evening.
Police said they told Bane to contact the U.S. Coast Guard for a search and rescue mission. The Coast Guard said it received the report roughly 10 hours later.
Cattie also disputed reports that Bane denied the Coast Guard full access to his vessel, although the Coast Guard said it cited him in March for multiple violations, including the alleged "obstruction of a boarding" of the Siren Song.
"He also met with the U.S. Coast Guard on his vessel later that day, answered all questions posed to him, and gave them unfettered access to the vessel," he said, without addressing the Coast Guard citations. "Any reports to the contrary are categorically false."
The USCG’s involvement was limited, Lt. Cmdr. Jason Neiman told Fox News.
"Mr. Bane was cited for obstruction of a safety boarding. Our boarding team was denied full access to complete a full safety check of the vessel by the operator. It was an administrative boarding and so penalties, even if not yet fully adjudicated, are not criminal in nature and typically meant to correct a safety deficiency," Neiman said.
"It was Mr. Bane who called the USCG and invited them to the vessel. Multiple officers boarded the vessel and they conducted an on-site inspection of the vessel and an on-sight interview without limitation. We have not received any preliminary assessment or fine for any alleged violations. If and when one is received, we will respond accordingly, " Cattie told Fox News on Friday.
Bane, who was convicted in Michigan on domestic assault charges after beating his ex-wife in 2011, hired the high-powered Virgin Islands attorney shortly after Sarm’s disappearance.
Anyone with information on Heslop’s whereabouts is asked to contact the U.S. Virgin Islands Police Department.
Virgin Islands police, who have been reluctant at times to give updates on the stalled case, have admitted that they're not sure whether Heslop returned to the Siren Song the night she went missing.