Missing diver 'left scuba gear in storage facility'

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MORE evidence emerged yesterday about lies told by a diver who claimed to have been stranded at sea for 56 hours when he was actually on a weekend break.

Matthew Harvey's tale of being lost at sea while scuba diving off the coast of Guernsey was hailed as a miraculous survival story after he was given up for dead following a 10,000 search mission.

However, a store manager in the south coast resort of Poole said he had deposited his diving equipment with them overnight.

Harvey claimed to have braved icy water temperatures, been knocked unconscious by a boat and ditched his scuba diving equipment after entering choppy waters last weekend. But police later proved his claims unfounded, after he was discovered to have boarded a ferry to the mainland and returned to his Guernsey home on Monday.

The motives for his disappearance remain a mystery and questions have been raised about his mental health. But it now appears his trip to the mainland was planned, with the disclosure that he deposited his scuba diving equipment in a Poole storage facility.

Lok'nStore manager Nicola Allmond told the Guernsey Press newspaper that Harvey deposited his equipment bag at 11am on Sunday and returned at 8.30am on Monday, but left without the bag.

She said: "He had a great big blue bag and he told the girls that it was his diving gear. He wasn't the slightest bit wet and he didn't have a head injury. We don't know why he came back but the bag is still here.

We'd seen on TV news that somebody was missing but we didn't realise it was Mr Harvey until we had a call from the police."

Yesterday, Guernsey Police duty inspector Jean-Pierre Le Breton said no charge had been brought against Harvey but the case had been referred to the island's prosecution service.

He said: "It's believed he left the island at about lunchtime on the day he was reported missing and returned in the early evening on the day he was found. What he was doing in the UK I don't know."

Harvey's father suggested his son's bizarre behaviour was a cry for help. Dan Harvey, 66, said: "He just lost his mind. It was some sort of breakdown. He just decided to get on that ferry in a moment of madness. To get back into the water like that was a cry for help. He told me that he has no recollection and cannot account for what he did."

Harvey's wife, Katie, refused to comment.