Missing rugby and X Factor star, Levi Davis was reportedly around £100,000 in debt to a Somali mafia and was convinced they had tried to poison him before he vanished in Spain, it was claimed on Wednesday.
Catalan newspaper La Vanguardia said the 24-year-old, who disappeared in Barcelona nearly three months ago, had got himself into huge debt after his party lifestyle spiralled out of control.
British investigator Gavin Burrows has been hired by Davis’ distraught family to look into the disappearance. An unnamed member of Burrows’ team was quoted by the paper as saying: ‘Davis came to Barcelona fleeing from these criminals. He had adopted a frenzied lifestyle and was in a very delicate situation.
‘The truth is he was sure they were chasing him. In fact he was convinced they had tried to poison him on one occasion.’
The amount he owed was put at around £102,000.
The Somali mafia debt claims surfaced in Spain as it emerged his family were pressing Spanish police to investigate a possible drowning in Barcelona’s port before Levi’s passport was found nearby.
Fears grew that he could have been lured into a trap after arranging to meet someone he had met on social media.
Good Morning Britain (GMB) said this morning that Burrows had told the programme he feared Levi may have drowned in Barcelona’s port.
GMB reporter Nick Dixon mentioned the port area incident, noting that it happened shortly after Levi was last seen.
Dixon added: ‘A man was in the water in distress in the port area close to a nearby cruise ship.
‘A search was carried out but no body was found and everyone was accounted for, at least on the cruise ship.
‘But it was sometime later that the police realised Levi’s passport was found in that same area.’
The incident was also flagged in overnight reports in Spain, which said workers on the cruise ship had alerted the authorities that someone was in the sea but the search was suspended soon afterwards because none of the passengers or crew on board were missing.
Levi’s Ibiza-based friend Richard Squire formally reported him missing a few days later after his family informed West Midlands Police he had vanished.
Barcelona police confirmed on November 22 last year that his passport had been found in the city port after Levi’s mother Julie revealed it had turned up.
Speaking of his fears the missing Brit could have been entrapped by someone on social media, and appearing to explain a mystery Bizum payment Levi was said to have made the day he vanished, the unnamed investigator told La Vanguardia: ‘We know a friend sent him £30 on Bizum so he could play for a place to sleep in.
‘And we also know he intended meeting a person he had met on social media, a person he had never actually seen, a person who could give us very valuable information about what occurred.
‘Unfortunately, we only have a nickname to go on.
‘Perhaps it was nothing more than bait offered by the mafia who were looking for him. We can’t rule out any hypothesis.’
Levi was taking a break in Europe after being sidelined from rugby following a knee injury.
He was picked up on CCTV leaving the Old Irish Pub near Barcelona’s La Rambla around 10pm on October 29, a few hours after taking a boat from Ibiza with just £35 and no change of clothes.
Squire described his decision to leave the island as ‘sudden’.
Davis’ mum broke down in tears on Wednesday morning on GMB as she recalled the last hug she gave her son before he left for Spain.
She said: ‘There’s always that mother’s instinct. And just before he left there was a message that, I don’t know, maybe powers up above, that said to me, “Give him a hug because you just don’t know if it’s going to be your last.”
She also revealed her frustration at finding out CCTV footage that could have played a vital part in the investigation into Levi’s disappearance had been erased because of delays.
Levi was reported missing to West Midlands Police shortly after he vanished but Spanish police did not start investigating for several days, until just before he was formally reported missing to them by his friend Mr. Squire.
‘I’ve had a lot of support from family and friends and of course, the private investigators have been working very hard and the Spanish police have done their bit as well.
‘But where I think it’s been difficult is not having the information come through. There’s the language barrier of course and having to go via the British consulate before and then the feedback with news updates is very slow, very slow.
‘I know the British consulate are pressing but in terms of the updates and the CCTV coverage it’s frustrating.
‘We got information back saying unfortunately it’s too late because the Spanish police had to go to court to get paperwork signed so they could access the CCTV.
‘By the time they did get it all the video had been deleted. It’s very frustrating.’