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The BBC's Rebecca Jones
"It is 14 years since Suzy Lamplugh disappeared"
 real 56k

Monday, 11 December, 2000, 15:22 GMT
Lamplugh police dig for body
map showing places of importance
Detectives investigating the abduction and murder of estate agent Suzy Lamplugh 14 years ago have started a detailed search for her body.

Scotland Yard said officers were digging up land near to Norton Barracks in Worcestershire "following information received and months of research".

More than 30 officers, including human remains dog search teams, police divers and forensic archaeologists are carrying out a fingertip search of a disused brickworks and a surrounding copse and lake.

We would very much hope to find Suzy for her family but we have to be realistic

Det Supt Shaun Sawyer
The 25-year-old - who has family roots in west Wales - vanished after going to show a property to a man called "Mr Kipper" in Fulham, south west London, in 1986.

Miss Lamplugh's body was never recovered, and eventually the family accepted she had been murdered.

Detective Superintendent Shaun Sawyer, of the Metropolitan Police, said at a news conference on Monday that the search had been planned for some time and was as a result of information received over the summer.

"We have got a distinctive site to look at. It has been developed over the years. We can focus our resources on this location."

Detectives recently questioned convicted killer John Cannan in connection with Miss Lamplugh's death.

Scotland Yard said on Monday that he was no longer being quizzed and had not been charged in connection with the inquiry.

Ms Lamplugh's mother, Pembrokeshire-born Diana Lamplugh, was first told that her daughter could be buried at the abandoned army barracks in December 1999.

Suzy Lamplugh
Suzy Lamplugh's disappearance has remained a mystery
The information, which came through Mrs Lamplugh's own contacts rather than through detectives, was passed on via a telephone call and a letter.

But Mr Sawyer ruled out digging or excavation in that area, which has now been developed into a housing estate.

"The Norton Barracks has been so well developed in terms of housing, that if Suzy was there, she would have been found by now or her body has been covered.

"If that is the case, it is unlikely she would be found."

Praise for police

On Monday, the Lamplugh family issued a statement that read: "We have been waiting a long time for news on exactly what happened.

"It would be a great relief to know the truth, and to be able to move on, although facing the facts is often very hard."

They also praised police for the "excellent work" they had undertaken since the inquiry reopened earlier this year.

Metropolitan Police detectives have met West Mercia Police to discuss a number of sites in the Worcestershire area that might have relevance to the inquiry.

Det Supt Shaun Sawyer said: "I would once more appeal to Suzy's killer to clear their conscience and tell us the location of her body."

He said that while the latest search was an important element in the inquiry, he stressed detectives were "extremely cautious of any likelihood of any success".

Metropolitan Police in field search
Field search: Police near Norton Barracks
"We would very much hope to find Suzy for her family but we have to be realistic," he added.

Police have questioned Cannan in connection with the crime on previous occasions, but he has repeatedly denied having anything to do with Miss Lamplugh's death.

He is currently serving a life sentence after being convicted in 1989 of murdering a 29-year-old woman.

The army barracks' location ties in with claims made more than a decade ago by Cannan's former girlfriend.

Diana Lamplugh
Diana Lamplugh set up a trust to promote personal safety
Gilly Paige said that while in a relationship with Cannan he had confessed to the crime and hinted about burying the body in Worcestershire.

In May this year the investigation was reopened and an appeal was made on the BBC's Crimewatch programme.

The publicity encouraged new witnesses to come forward.

Police then appealed for more information about a dark, left-hand drive BMW car that a jogger saw in Fulham at the time of Suzy's disappearance.

Anyone with information should call the incident room at Belgravia Police Station on 020 7321 925, or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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