Wife of Lisburn man Mervyn Craig missing in England desperate for him to return home safely - 'The last thing he said before he left was he loved me and our children'
The wife of a Northern Ireland man who vanished without trace in England has revealed the last thing he told her was he loved her.
Mervyn Craig (46), from Lisburn, has not been seen since February 8 when he left the Wigan home of a woman he had befriended online.
The father-of-four had told his family he was going to the greater Manchester area for a job on a building site.
His wife, Donna (50) told the Belfast Telegraph all she cared about now was her husband's safe return to the family home.
"Mervyn left home four weeks ago yesterday and there have been no sightings of him for almost three weeks," she said.
"He said he was going to England for a job and everybody was convinced.
"The last thing he said before he left on January 28 was that he would see us soon, and that he loved me and our children."
Mr Craig, who is diabetic and insulin-dependent, has now been officially missing for 18 days.
His secret relationship with the English woman was uncovered when his eldest daughter accessed his Facebook account.
Mrs Craig said the whole family have been beside themselves with worry for the last three weeks. She told how her children - 29-year-old Samantha, Dwayne (24), 21-year-old Chloe and Ryan (20) - were desperate for news about their father.
And she added that their grandchildren - seven-year-old Madison, Bethany (3) and Ethan, who is 15 months - just want him to come home.
Greater Manchester Police have expressed concern about the safety of the missing man, who requires daily self-medication via injection from a weekly prescription.
Mrs Craig said that some of her husband's friends were launching a search party this weekend.
"I'm just trying to get on with things, hoping that it all turns out for the best and that Mervyn turns up safe and well," she said.
"I want to know that he's safe and well and we all want him to come home. His family and his grandchildren miss him.
"This weekend, some of Mervyn's close friends are going over to Wigan to look for him."
Mrs Craig, who is too unwell to work, said she was getting back on her feet again, having been involved in a car accident the day before her husband left.
"I'm recovering and I still have aches and pains, but I'm trying to get on with it," she added.
"But it's very hard to get through the days not knowing where he is or if he's okay.
"We don't know anybody over there, apart from Mervyn's cousin Michael, who lives in Manchester. He's been to Wigan to look for him but he hasn't seen him out and about. We are all absolutely desperate to hear from him. We are all trying to support each other through each day."
Mr Craig's eldest daughter, Samantha, told this newspaper last week that she had confronted her father's Facebook friend - who is in her mid-30s - online and was told that they had parted company on February 8.
Police have confirmed that Mr Craig was last seen at the Arnold Clark Motorstore on Wallgate, Wigan, later that day at around 8pm. This was a source of confusion to his family, who said he does not drive and has never held a licence.
He was last seen wearing a light grey 'Tapout' t-shirt with dark jeans.
Mr Craig, who is white and normally shaven-headed, is described as "burly" and at least 6ft 4ins tall.
His family said a failure to administer his medication would leave the manual labourer disorientated, mumbling and confused.
Detective Inspector Martin Reddington said Greater Manchester Police were continuing to appeal for information, adding that they had now utilised "significant resources" - including officers on the ground and an underwater search team - in the hope of finding Mr Craig.
"Mervyn has now been missing for 18 days and we are growing more and more concerned for his welfare with each passing day," DI Reddington said. Anyone with information about Mervyn's whereabouts is asked to call police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.