Search for Claudia Lawrence at Yorkshire beauty spot ends as 'nothing of significance' is found

Police investigating the disappearance of Claudia Lawrence say they have completed their search of a Yorkshire beauty spot and found nothing of significance.

Sunday, 5th September 2021, 5:31 pm
Claudia Lawrence, who has been missing since March 2009, with her father Peter

North Yorkshire Police has been searching a woodland area and two lakes at Sand Hutton Gravel Pits near York for 12 days, using search experts, specially trained search dogs, divers and forensic archaeologists.

Ms Lawrence has not been seen since 2009, when the 35-year-old chef failed to turn up for work at the University of York, and detectives believe she was murdered, even though no body has been found.

The force said “nothing of obvious significance” was found but a number of small items are being “assessed for their forensic potential”.

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North Yorkshire Police has been searching a woodland area and two lakes at Sand Hutton Gravel Pits near York for 12 days

Detective Superintendent Wayne Fox, head of the Major Investigation Team, said the search of Sand Hutton Gravel Pits began after new information came to light.

He said: “When we assessed these separate and independently-sourced pieces of information against the wealth of information already generated during the last 12 years, we found they correlated with other information pointing to the area of Sand Hutton.

“We then consulted a number of national experts in various different disciplines and concluded that we could not discount the possibility that Sand Hutton Gravel Pits could have a major relevance in explaining what happened to Claudia.

“Armed with fresh information to the enquiry, that seemed to corroborate known facts, we were duty bound to conduct thorough searches of the area.

Claudia Lawrence was last seen in March 2009

“Not searching was not an option – not for Claudia, not for her family, and not for the wider public.”

He added: “As a result of the publicity surrounding the last two weeks, members of the public have come forward with new information for which I am grateful. This will be assessed and investigated in the coming days and weeks.

“In the light of some media speculation, I would like to stress, however, that we are not liaising with any other police force in relation to these new lines of enquiry.

“As I hope the events of the last two weeks demonstrate, we are committed to establishing what happened to Claudia and bringing closure for her family.

“You cannot fail to be moved by the ongoing suffering of a mother who does not know what has happened to her daughter.

“I again repeat the request to those who know what has happened to Claudia, to do the right thing, come forward and help end the torment of Claudia’s family.”

Martin Dales, a friend of Ms Lawrence’s father, Peter Lawrence, said: “This is very sad news that, despite these recent detailed and extensive searches by the police, there remains no further information on the whereabouts of Claudia Lawrence for the 150 months she has now been missing.

“This is totally unsatisfactory and grossly unfair and cruel on all who care about Claudia.

“How many more times have family, friends and police got to appeal for the information needed to be with the police, to bring closure, good or bad, for this seemingly never-ending nightmare.”

Ms Lawrence’s friends and family became suspicious after she failed to turn up for her 6am shift at the University of York’s Goodricke College on Thursday, March 19 in 2009 and her father Peter Lawrence phoned the police the following day.

She was due to walk around three miles to work that morning, but she never arrived, and her mobile phone – a silver Samsung D900 – and a blue and grey Karrimor rucksack have never been found.

Police said she appeared to have left for work that morning, as the bed had been made and there were breakfast dishes in the sink.

She was last seen at around 3pm on Wednesday, March 18, when she was walking to her home on Heworth Road and she spoke to her parents on the phone later that evening. Both said she appeared to be in good spirits.

Mr Lawrence died earlier this year, at the age of 74, without finding out what happened to his daughter.

Anyone with information that could assist the investigation should contact North Yorkshire Police on 101, select option 1, and pass details to the Force Control Room quoting “Claudia Lawrence”.