Claudia Lawrence: Police launch fresh search behind her house

25 Feb 2015 @ 8.03 am
| Crime
Claudia Lawrence: disappeared five years ago
Claudia Lawrence: her 41st birthday is on Friday.

Detectives investigating the suspected murder of Claudia Lawrence are searching an alleyway near her home today (Wednesday, February 25).

North Yorkshire Police’s Major Crime Unit is examining the alley to the rear of Claudia’s house on Heworth Road, after a promising new lead.

Claudia disappeared nearly six years ago. She was last seen on Wednesday, March 18, 2009.

Specialist search officers and a police dog are involved in the operation. Detectives are also carrying out more house-to-house enquiries in the area as well as contacting former residents.

Detective Superintendent Dai Malyn, the senior investigating officer in the Claudia Lawrence case, said they were following up a specific piece of information that the alleyway “is significant”.

We still don’t know if Claudia left for work on the morning of Thursday 19th March 2009 or whether something happened overnight within her house. If the latter is the case the person or persons responsible, in my view, would have used the rear alleyway as the front door leads onto a busy main road.

Officers will be conducting house-to-house enquiries in the vicinity to jog people’s memories about any vehicular access to the alleyway and how frequently this was used by neighbours or other pedestrians.

This includes contacting people who have since moved away from the area to assist the investigation. We are also checking again that no CCTV recording equipment in the neighbourhood has been overlooked.

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Officers search the alleyway behind Claudia’s house on Wednesday morning. Photographs: North Yorkshire Police on Twitter
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Det Supt Dai Malyn talks to BBC Look North as the alleyway search gets underway

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An aerial view of the back of Heworth Road, with the Nags Head pub in the centre of the picture. Photograph: Bing Maps. Click to see a bigger image

Det Supt Malyn, head of the Major Crime Unit, said this was one of “several active enquiries at present that will be developed over the coming weeks and months”.

Together with Claudia’s family, we remain absolutely determined to solve this case and bring those responsible for her disappearance and suspected murder to justice.

Audio: Det Supt Malyn on his hopes for the inquiry

Claudia’s birthday

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Claudia with her father Peter
The police operation comes just days before Claudia’s family mark her 41st birthday on Friday (February 27).

Claudia’s family have been briefed about today’s activity and trained family liaison officers will continue to support them.

Det Supt Malyn added:

This is a very poignant week for Claudia’s family and friends as they should be celebrating her 41st birthday on Friday, rather than marking another upsetting milestone since she disappeared almost six years ago.

Our thoughts are with her loved-ones at this difficult time and as we approach the sixth anniversary of the investigation next month.

The investigation so far

Nobody has seen or heard from Claudia Lawrence since Wednesday, March 18, 2009.

She was reported missing by her father on Friday, March 20 after concerns were raised when the chef failed to turn up for her 6am shift at the University of York on the Thursday.

North Yorkshire Police’s Major Crime Unit has been actively reviewing and investigating the Claudia Lawrence case since October 2013.

A 60-year-old man was arrested in May on suspicion of murder. He was later released from his bail.

A 47-year-old man was also arrested in July on suspicion of perverting the course of justice. He remains on police bail while enquiries continue.

How to contact police

Call North Yorkshire Police on 101
Or Crimestoppers 0800 555 111
Or submit information on the Crimestoppers anonymous online form
Please quote “Claudia Lawrence”