Coventry & Warwickshire

Nicola Payne: Police search Coventry parkland

Media captionThe BBC's Joan Cummins explained what was happening at the site

Police investigating the disappearance of a Coventry mother last seen 21 years ago are searching parkland after being given new information.

Nicola Payne, aged 18, went missing from the Wood End area on 14 December 1991. She had a six-month-old son.

She was on her way to her parents' house from the home she shared with her boyfriend in Winston Avenue.

West Midlands Police urged anyone with information to "dig deep into their conscience" and come forward.

'Think back'

Speaking at a news conference, Det Ch Insp Matt Markham said: "New information has been developed by detectives working on the case. We can't go into the detail about the information, but it is sufficient to warrant further investigation.

"Someone out there does know what happened and holds the key, but for whatever reason they may have chosen not to come forward... "

He said he wanted people in the area to think back over whether they saw anything suspicious. Nicola was last sighted near to the Black Pad in Wood End.

The latest search includes specially-trained dogs and Home Office scientists using ground x-ray and metal detection equipment. Police said it could take another two days before "progress" can be made.

Family liaison officers are on site while the search, at parkland off Purcell Road, takes place.

In a statement, the family said: "For many years we have suffered not knowing what has happened to her and we are appealing to find Nicola and give us the clue we deserve.

Media captionCh Insp Kerry Blakeman: "We're extremely hopeful that we find something"

"This demonstrates that there are people still providing vital and important information around her disappearance."

Miss Payne's son Owen is now aged 21.

He did not wish to talk about recent events, but in 2007, aged 16, he spoke about the sadness of not having any memory of his mother.

He said: "During my early years at school I wished that my mum could meet me at the school gates as other mums did with my friends.

"I envy my older cousins who remember her well, and they tell me what a fun-loving girl she was."

At the same time, Miss Payne's father John said the family did not believe Nicola was still alive but they would never give up hope that one day she would be found.

Nicola would have turned 40 next January, which police said would be a landmark date for the family.

Miss Payne had left the home she shared with her boyfriend, Jason Cooke, half a mile from her parents' house.

In 2007 a man was arrested in connection with her disappearance and released on bail. No-one has ever been charged in connection with the case.

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