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Boyfriend of missing Sarm Heslop has given up on boats and is now a pilot, says his ex-wife

The boyfriend of Sarm Heslop last seen alive on his yacht has allegedly told friends “he can’t do the boating thing anymore” and has taken to the skies to be a pilot, his ex-wife has said.

Ms Heslop, 41, vanished from her American boyfriend Ryan Bane’s 47-foot luxury catamaran Siren Song on 8 March 2021.

The former flight attendant was last seen boarding Mr Bane’s boat, where she had been working as a chef on Caribbean tours, after the couple matched on Tinder eight months earlier. They had been out for dinner at the bar 420 to Center on St John, before returning to the £500,000 catamaran.

Ryan Bane pictured with his ex-wife Cori Stevenson (Cori Stevenson)
Ryan Bane pictured with his ex-wife Cori Stevenson (Cori Stevenson)

In Florida, Cori Stevenson, who was married to Ryan Bane from 2008 to 2014, said her heart sunk when she heard the news that Ms Heslop had gone missing.

She told The Independent three years on from the disappearance: “He was like a dream. The perfect boyfriend. But it was all a lie. He is a total narcissist with no empathy whatsoever. He truly does not care about people.

“He was angry. But he would flip out about weird things. I was trauma-bonded to him. It was very hard to get away but I did it.”

Ms Heslop vanished on her then-boyfriend’s yacht in St John (Find Sarm)
Ms Heslop vanished on her then-boyfriend’s yacht in St John (Find Sarm)

She immediately rang US Virgin Islands police (USVIPD) to tell them of Mr Bane’s history with women, how he dragged her from a truck and hit her head on the ground, his alleged threats to kill, and his 2011 prison sentence for domestic abuse.

On her last contact with Mr Bane, now 46, she said: “He was threatening me in the courtroom that he was going to come inside my house.

“I told him go ahead, I have a shotgun waiting for you. I actually slept with a shotgun for two years.”

After Ms Heslop’s disappearance, the sea captain waited until 11.46am the next day to call the coastguard - a nine-hour gap which her friends and now family want him to provide a timeline for.

Mr Bane has never been formally interviewed by police and no forensic search of the boat, Siren Song, was ever carried out.

Police called Mr Bane a “person of interest” in the case but did not obtain a search warrant for his yacht, which is believed to have since changed ownership.

He sailed off “into the sunset”, according to former Metropolitan Police detective David Johnston hired by the family in the days after the disappearance, and allegedly sold the boat in Granada before pictures emerged of him hitting the gym in his home state of Michigan.

Mr Bane approached the cousins of Ms Stevenson in a Planet Fitness gym in February, she said, prompting them to pull out their phones as they asked him about the disappearance of Ms Heslop.

Ms Stevenson said: “He has been showing up in Lake Orion where we are from.

“When he spoke to my cousin Gary, Gary looked at him and asked him questions and Ryan walked away. He didn’t say anything.

“Then I asked my cousins to take photos of him. They told me he looked different.

“A few years ago he told a mutual friend he sold the boat and said he ‘couldn’t do the boating thing anymore’, so now he is just flying being a pilot instead.”

Mr Bane at the gym was confronted by Ms Stevenson’s cousins (Find Sarm)
Mr Bane at the gym was confronted by Ms Stevenson’s cousins (Find Sarm)

Asked if she believed he would cooperate with Virgin Island authorities, she said: “No, never. He’s never done anything wrong, just ask him.”

Ms Heslop’s mother Brenda Street, 67, has spoken of how she believes her daughter was murdered but does not accuse Mr Bane of having any part in her daughter’s death.

It has now emerged that he blocked Ms Street 48 hours after telling her he loved Ms Heslop and was doing everything he could to find her off the coast of St John in the US Virgin Islands.

But coastguard reports say they found him nine hours intoxicated on a boat and refused entry on the advice of his lawyer.

Ms Stevenson said she has been in regular contact with Ms Heslop’s family and friends, who are still searching for answers on her disappearance three years on.

She added: “Anytime Brenda sends me a message, I just cry. I can’t help it. My heart breaks for her. I could never imagine what she has gone through.”

Mr Bane, who has always denied any wrongdoing, failed to allow a forensic search of his yacht, a US Defense Department report on the initial call-out states. The Virgin Islands Police Department has also previously appealed for Mr Bane to contact them to help with the investigation.

His lawyer David Cattie, also hired by disgraced socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, said: “Mr Bane is heartbroken over Sarm’s disappearance. We certainly understand and empathise with her mother’s pain and frustration.

“Mr Bane called 911 immediately upon waking and finding Sarm was not on board. He took his dinghy to shore to meet with VIPD that night and called the USCG the next day when no one appeared at his boat. He also had the USCG on his vessel twice following Sarm’s disappearance. Later Mr Bane and I personally took all of Sarm’s belongings to the police, including all of her electronic devices.”