New search at York home of Claudia Lawrence as sixth anniversary nears

Police search the alley this morning
Police search the alley this morning

Murder squad detectives investigating the case of missing York chef Claudia Lawrence will return to her home today to carry out new searches nearly six years on from her disappearance.

Officers investigating the disappearance and suspected murder of Claudia Lawrence will examine alleyways at the back of her home on Heworth Road in York as they develop possible new lines of inquiry as part of an ongoing review into the original investigation.

Nobody has seen or heard from the York chef for almost six years since she vanished on March 18, 2009. She was reported missing by her father, Peter Lawrence, on March 20 of that year after concerns were raised when she failed to turn up for her 6am shift at the University of York.

Mr Lawrence, who is preparing to mark his daughter’s 41st birthday on Friday, said: “It’s always a difficult time, all the time is difficult but specifically birthdays and anniversaries of her disappearance are harder than usual.”

He welcomed the latest developments, adding: “Anything that still keeps this investigation going in the public mind is very much welcome as far as I am concerned.

“The fact that they are doing something and have this lead in mind to make them go there specifically is absolutely very welcome.”

Despite extensive police inquiries, Miss Lawrence’s disappearance remains shrouded in mystery and a constant source of heartache for her family and friends.

Officers will today focus their efforts on an alleyway at the rear of Miss Lawrence’s house - saying they are currently working on a lead that may indicate the alleyway would be significant.

Detective Superintendent Dai Malyn, the head of North Yorkshire Police’s Major Crime Unit and the senior investigating officer, said: “The activity today focuses on the alleyway with search trained officers and a dog. Officers will be conducting house-to-house inquiries 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.

“This remains one of several active inquiries 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.”

Mr 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, “ he said.

The disappearance of Claudia Lawrence has been one of the most high-profile and perplexing missing person cases of recent years.

Miss Lawrence, who worked in a kitchen at York University, was last seen at about 3pm on March 18, 2009, as she made her way home from her shift and reported missing by her father two days later.

An extensive police investigation and repeated public appeals followed, but detectives appeared no closer to discovering what had happened to her until last year.

Then hopes of a breakthrough were raised when a 60-year-old man was arrested in May of last year - two months after a renewed appeal on the BBC’s Crimewatch programme had given the case fresh impetus.

Officers carried out searches of a home in the Burnholme area of York and another in the North East.

However, the arrested man was released from his bail without charge in November.

The only other person arrested in connection with the case, a 46-year-old who was questioned on suspicion of perverting the course of justice last July, is still on bail.