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Tuesday, May 18, 1999 Published at 02:31 GMT 03:31 UK


Search goes on for 'Champagne Charlie'

Three forces are liaising in a bid to find Mr Hoy, who has been missing for six months

Detectives hunting a father-of-two who disappeared in bizarre circumstances in November owing £20,000 to an underworld gang say they are no nearer discovering his whereabouts.

Andrew Hoy, a 31-year-old salesman for an Essex cleaning firm, was last seen by his family on 22 November when he told them he was going to Portsmouth to sort out his problems.

His car was discovered two days later in a quiet residential street in Salisbury, Wiltshire.

In the boot of the red BMW was a bag containing the 31-year-old businessman's blood-stained clothes.

'He did not die in those clothes'

Forensic scientists who examined the stains said they were inconsistent with a man having been killed in those clothes.

[ image: Police have now released this picture of Andrew Hoy]
Police have now released this picture of Andrew Hoy
An imitation pistol was also found in the car which was parked in a quiet residential road two miles away from the home of Mr Hoy's sister, Angela West. But she did not see him in the week of his disappearance.

Mr Hoy had received death threats in the weeks before his disappearance and had moved his wife, Tracey, and young daughters out of their home in Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex, and into a hotel in Suffolk for their own safety.

They have not heard from him since November.

The man in charge of the hunt for Mr Hoy, Detective Chief Inspector Sid Kimber, said he had two theories about what had happened to him.

"Either he is lying dead somewhere or he has gone off with one of the women who he had been seeing," he said.

'Lived beyond his means'

Mr Kimber said one of Mr Hoy's secret lovers had told them he lived a "champagne lifestyle, funded on beer money".

He said he believed Mr Hoy had got into debt because of his lifestyle, and had then become tempted into drug dealing.

But Mr Hoy, who had no previous criminal record, was "out of his depth" and eventually ended up owing an Essex drugs gang £20,000.

In the last few months of his life he lost four stones in weight. Mr Kimber said this was believed to be due to a combination of stress and his own drug habit.

Mr Kimber said the mystery had now been scaled down to a missing person's inquiry, but he said it was a distinct possibility that Mr Hoy was dead.

Releasing the most recent picture of Mr Hoy, he said: "Nothing I have found out indicates he is dead. Possibly he has done a 'Reggie Perrin'.

'Let us know if you're alive'

"But if he has I would appeal to him on behalf of his family - and especially his poor mother who I know is very distressed - to contact someone, just to say he is alive".

In the last few months before his disappearance Mr Hoy lost four months in weight and Mr Kimber said this was probably a combination of stress and drug taking.

Mr Kimber said Mr Hoy, a keen West Ham United fan, had two distinctive tattoos - a British bulldog on his right leg and another bulldog, with crossed hammers, on his arm.

He urged anyone who had seen him since 22 November to contact him or his team on 01722 411444.

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