Nicola Payne: Canal search in hunt for missing mum

Media caption,
Nicola Payne: Canal search in hunt for missing mother

A stretch of canal is being searched after police received "new information" about the disappearance of a young mother more than 28 years ago.

Nicola Payne, then 18, went missing while walking across wasteland near her parents' house in Coventry in 1991.

Officers are working with a specialist underwater search team close to the Armada boat yard near Rugby.

Welcoming the search, her family said: "We wait in quiet hope that we can bring Nicola home to be laid to rest."

West Midlands Police has urged anyone who may have information to come forward.

Image source, West Midlands Police
Image caption,
Nicola Payne was last seen in December 1991

Ms Payne, who had a seven-month-old son, went missing as she walked from her boyfriend's address to her parents' house in December 1991.

Her father has said the walk should have taken about six minutes.

Image source, Family handout
Image caption,
Nicola went missing while walking across wasteland

The reward for any information leading to finding Ms Payne was raised to £100,000 by an anonymous donor in January 2018.

Her family also hired a private forensic search team to examine land around Coombe Country Park, near Coventry, in the same month.

Det Insp Justin Mason-Spanner said the force was "committed as ever to finding Nicola's remains, allowing her family to lay her to rest and to achieving justice for her family and the community".

"We recently received new information which has led to this search that will last a few days. Nicola's family has been kept fully informed," he said.

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Det Supt Sam Riding said the force was likely to be at the site for the rest of the week

"We still believe there may be people out there who hold information about what happened in 1991 and I urge anyone who has not previously contacted us with information to contact us.

"It could make all the difference and could finally bring Nicola's family the closure they deserve."

Det Supt Sam Riding added the "credible" information had come forward following a public appeal for information.

Peter Faulding from Specialist Group International said divers were using sonar imaging to scan the bottom of the canal.

"We can see anything lying on the bottom - twigs, sticks, bags - anything that's there," he said.

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