Missing rugby player Levi Davis is feared to have drowned in the sea off Barcelona, his devastated family said tonight.
His mother Julie Davis has said police have told her that they now believe a man reported drowning close to the city’s port was her son.
But a judge will have to authorise a new search of port waters in Barcelona where Levi is believed to have drowned, local press have reported.
Catalan police said an English-speaking man feared to be the 24-year-old was seen in difficulties by members of a cruise liner docking in the city shortly after he disappeared nearly six months ago.
They said the man shouted for help several times in English. A lifebuoy was thrown down to him but a subsequent search by police and coastguard found nobody.
Officers have spoken to four crew members of a cruise liner docking in Barcelona at 6.30am on 30 October – the day after Levi disappeared – who reported seeing a man in the sea wearing the same light-coloured top as Levi.
Coastguards in Barcelona mobilised their helicopter called Helimer 203 and a vessel called Salvamar Mintaka.
A boat operated by firefighters was also sent to the scene along with police and Red Cross vessels.
The search operation is said to have lasted an entire day but was called off after it was confirmed no-one was missing from the cruise liner and police confirmed no-one had been reported missing in port waters or in the sea off Barcelona.
Levi’s disappearance had not been reported to police at the time and his passport was not found until days later.
Catalan police launched a search for the rugby player and former X-Factor contestant off their own backs on November 8 before receiving an official missing persons’ report from an Ibiza-based friend on November 12.
A spokesman for the regional Mossos d’Esquadra force, who had handed the case over to their specialist investigative unit, said tonight that it had no extra information to provide about the case.
But Spanish press are reporting a court will have to authorise a new search of the port waters and other inaccessible areas of the port Levi’s family have pinned their hopes on in a bid to seek answers to what happened the night he vanished.
Detectives have also told Levi’s family that they have now also discovered his phone signal was last picked up in the early hours of 30 October close to the port.
It was previously thought the mobile phone – which hasn’t been used since his disappearance – was last pinged close to the main Sants rail station.
But detectives have told Julie that they have now traced Levi – who also appeared on Celebrity X Factor – walking to the port after visiting an Irish bar and the Hard Rock Cafe on La Rambla.
Levi’s passport was found a few days after his disappearance lying on a bench just outside the port.
In a statement released to MailOnline this evening, his mother Julie said she and one Levi’s close friends, Richard Squire, had met with police, the Mosso D’esquadra, on Monday for an update on the search.
She said: ‘Extensive work has been done to track Levi’s movements on the night of the 29 Oct and they (the police) are able to confirm that following his last reported sighting at the Hard Rock Café, Levi walked back down La Rambla and entered the commercial port.
‘His phone last registered in the early hours of Saturday 30 October with a phone tower at the far end of the port closest to the sea entrance.
‘Reports of a man in the water by staff on a cruise ship entering the port at 6.30am on 30 Oct have been investigated.
‘Four members of staff confirmed seeing a man in the water with specific details including him asking for help in English and the colour of his clothing.
‘A life jacket was thrown from the ship and emergency Sea and Air rescue services searched the area but they were unable to find him.
‘The investigation is still very much ongoing and we are hoping that the Port Police will authorise and carry out a further search of the waters and other inaccessible areas of the port.
‘We would like to thank the Mosso d’esquadra and the British Consulate in Barcelona for their continued hard work.
‘No further comment will be made at this time. We continue to ask that the press respect the feelings and privacy of Levi’s family and friends at what is a very emotionally distressing time.’