Missing pub landlord's body found in sea

Malcolm Levesconte. Photo: Wiltshire Police

The body of a Wiltshire pub landlord who vanished after the theft of almost £30,000 from a Christmas collection has been found in the sea, police said.

Malcolm Levesconte, 59, was last seen on December 9 boarding a ferry for France after the theft from the Christmas savings club at his pub, the Royal Oak in Shrewton, near Salisbury.

Detectives have been working on the theory that he had been propping up his failing pub business with money from the fund.

On December 24, Kent Police informed Wiltshire detectives that a body had been found in the sea.

Tests have confirmed that this body was that of Mr Levesconte. His next of kin have been informed.

– Wiltshire Police spokesman

The body was found near Dover. The death is being treated as non-suspicious.

Detectives had previously said they were considering the possibility that Mr Levesconte jumped off the ferry after it left Portsmouth.

He had booked a return ticket to St Malo on December 9 and had boarded the ferry. But detectives said he did not get off at the French port.

Following the theft, 60 families were left facing a bleak Christmas but saw the festive season saved after people donated money to replace the stolen funds.

It took just four days to replace the missing £29,000 thanks to one anonymous donation of £10,000 and hundreds of smaller contributions from as far afield as South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Australia and the United States.

Local families had been contributing to the fund since last January and the village has a strong tradition of saving through local pubs and groups.

The Royal Oak in Shrewton where Malcolm Levesconte was the landlord. Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire