Date: 7 Aug 2016
Place: Kearsley, Greater Manchester
Michael Martin went missing from Kearsley on 7 August 2016.
It was thought that he was a victim of Salford's criminal underworld. It was also later revealed that he had had a large sum of money on him the night before he vanished.
He was last seen at an Esso petrol station on the A666 Bolton Road in Kearsley, Bolton on Sunday 7 August at about 7.30am and the police said that they were treating his case as a non-body murder. He had been seen shortly before at his flat in Sidmouth Drive, Blackley.
CCTV footage showed him by his black Ford Focus car acting erratically and opening three doors before running away. He was also seen talking to a man in the petrol station who was later seen getting into Michael Martin's car and driving away. After opening the three doors to his car Michael Martin then went into the petrol station shop where he was seen talking to a man described as an 'associate' with whom it was thought that he had had an argument with. After that, Michael Martin was seen to go back to his car and inspect the rear of it before then suddenly running away. The other man was then seen to get into Michael Martin's car and drive away. He was seen to run off across the road and then into an alleyway.
The man that Michael Martin was seen with, his associate, was later arrested on suspicion of assaulting Michael Martin, but was later released without charge.
A second man was also arrested on suspicion of assault, but also later released.
Michael Martin's car was later found abandoned near his home in Vermere Avenue in Blackley on Tuesday 9 August 2016 with a damaged ignition, smashed window and a damaged exhaust.
Michael Martin had also owned another car, a blue Vauxhall Corsa, which was found abandoned on Bannerman Avenue in Prestwich on Friday 12 August 2016 with damage.
Michael Martin was first reported missing by his father who he used to call every day. He was found to have last used his phone on 7 August 2016 and to have last accessed his bank account on 2 August 2016.
His mother who saw him a couple of days before he vanished said that he seemed okay at the time.
In August 2019 the police searched Clifton Country Park for his body, but found nothing.
Earlier on in the investigation the police also searched a flat on Victoria Avenue and a house in Longton Road as well as a room at the Premier Inn on Middleton Road in Higher Blackley.
The police also searched a wooded area around Horridge Brook off Grosvenor Street in Little Hulton, Kearsley near to the petrol station where he was last seen on CCTV. The searches focussed on an area near the M61 bridge and a footpath through some dense woodland. The police were said to have combed amongst the branches and trees for clues. They also abseiled down a steep embankment near Kersley train station.
The police said that by June 2018 they had determined that Michael Martin and a friend of his had come into possession of a large amount of money in cash, thought to be several thousand pounds, which was thought might have had some connection with his disappearance and that he might have been involved with a gangland 'taxing' row. The police added that they thought that he was being exploited by an organised gang who had preyed on his vulnerability and that he probably didn't benefit from the money he and his friend came into possession of. It was suggested that the money had come from criminal activity and that it might possibly have been taken from other criminals.
The police said, 'From our inquiries Michael and his friend collected a large amount of money on the evening before Michael disappeared from the petrol station. We suspect that that money may have been from criminality and it may have been taken from other criminals. We believe that Michael was being exploited and coerced by those that used Michael to assist with their own game, their own criminality. Some of Michael’s friends are gang members. I believe they know what has happened to Michael. They may be involved in his murder, in his disappearance. The crime gang Michael was involved with has links to drug dealing and high-value robberies. I believe his associates preyed on his vulnerability and exploited Michael'.
It was said that Michael Martin had been out the night before with the man who he was later seen talking to at the petrol station shortly before he vanished. The police said, 'They had been to the city centre, Blackley, Middleton, numerous areas. I believe they met with friends and criminal associates. During that night we know they collected a large amount of money, believed to be in the thousands, and that money has never been recovered. It may be that the argument we see at the petrol station is Michael and his friend arguing about that cash'.
A number of people were arrested, but no charges were ever made.
Michael Martin had some mental health problems for which he took medication and was said to have suffered from depression and anxiety. It was suggested that he might have been having an episode at the time that he ran off from his car at the petrol station.