Birmingham & Black Country

Suzy Lamplugh: Search in Sutton Coldfield enters second week

Suzy Lamplugh Image copyright REX/Shutterstock
Image caption Suzy Lamplugh disappeared in 1986 and was declared dead, presumed murdered, in 1994

The fresh search for clues behind the murder of estate agent Suzy Lamplugh has entered a second week.

Ms Lamplugh, from London, was 25 when she disappeared in 1986 and declared dead, presumed murdered, in 1994, although a body has never been found.

Met Police confirmed it would on Monday resume its search in the back garden of the former home of the prime suspect's mother in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham.

Suspect John Cannan hopes it will "end speculation about his involvement".

Cannan, who is serving a life sentence for murdering a different woman, was named as a suspect in Ms Lamplugh's murder in 2002.

Image caption Police have been searching the former home of John Cannan's mother since last Monday

The Met, which is leading the investigation with support from the West Midlands force and a private forensics company, would not say how long the search would continue.

Homeowner Phillip Carey said he has had no discussion with police about when the search would end and, when asked last week about how long the investigation would last, said: "How long is a piece of string?"

Officers, who began work at the home last Monday, have been on site throughout the weekend.

A garage to the back of the semi-detached property in Shipton Road has been dismantled and paving has been removed.

Image copyright PA
Image caption John Cannan and the "Mr Kipper" e-fit

Cannan, 64, is serving a life sentence for the abduction and murder of Bristol newlywed Shirley Banks, for which he was jailed in 1989.

A former Met detective who led a review of the case beginning in 2000 said Cannan bore a strong resemblance to an e-fit of a man to whom Ms Lamplugh was seen talking to on the day she went missing.

Analysis

By Peter Wilson, BBC News

This case is 32 years old.

Now CCTV cameras, automatic number plate recognition and mobile cell site analysis mean a suspects movements can be traced and overlaid with the victims. None of that existed in the 1980s.

Cold case murder investigations are the hardest to crack. Witnesses are often dead or forgetful. When a body has not been found it's almost impossible to find unless the murderer is willing to help the police.

In my experience such digging in a localised location like a back garden is often concluded in a matter of days. Forensic teams have ground penetrating radar to reveal depressions or cavities in the soil which may contain a body.

But police also use forensic archaeologists to literally scrape away at potentially likely hotspots as the teams not only search for bones but also evidence….and that takes time and patience.

Image copyright REX/Shutterstock
Image caption Suzy Lamplugh went missing in 1986 aged 25

According to reports Cannan was nicknamed Kipper during an earlier prison sentence.

His solicitor, Matthew Claughton, said: "Mr Cannan hopes that the search of his mother's former home will conclude swiftly so as to bring to an end speculation as to his involvement in this matter."

The forensic experts assisting police have previously worked on the search for Madeleine McCann.

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