Suzy Lamplugh murder: Garden search continues into second week

Searches of a back garden in connection with the murder of Suzy Lamplugh are continuing into a second week.

Miss Lamplugh, who was from London, disappeared in 1986 and was declared dead – presumed murdered – in 1994, although a body has never been found.

The Metropolitan Police Service confirmed on Monday that the searches, which began on October 29 in Shipton Road, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, are still “ongoing”.

The force said officers, supported by specialist forensics teams and West Midlands Police, would remain on site until the search is complete.

Hunt for Suzy Lamplugh’s body
Hunt for Suzy Lamplugh’s body

The Met would not speculate on how long the investigations at the scene would go on for.

The back garden and semi-detached house were once owned by the mother of convicted killer John Cannan.

Cannan was named by the Met in 2002 as the prime suspect over Miss Lamplugh’s murder.

At the end of last week, Cannan expressed hopes that the search of his mother’s former home will conclude swiftly to “end speculation” that he murdered 25-year-old Miss Lamplugh, his solicitor has said.

In his first comments since excavations began, Cannan reiterated his denial that he killed the estate agent who went missing 32 years ago.

Specialist forensics teams have been digging in the garden over the weekend.

Solicitor Matthew Claughton received a letter on Friday from his client in Full Sutton prison, where he is serving a life sentence for murdering Bristol newlywed Shirley Banks.

Mr Claughton told the Press Association: “John Cannan continues to deny involvement in the 1986 disappearance of estate agent Suzy Lamplugh.

“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.”

Hunt for Suzy Lamplugh’s body
Hunt for Suzy Lamplugh’s body

Cannan has no idea why the search has come now, with the development coming “out of the blue”, the solicitor added.

Estate agent Miss Lamplugh went missing, having left her west London offices to meet a mystery client known only as Mr Kipper.

Miss Lamplugh’s death has remained one of the UK’s most notorious cold cases.

Three days before her disappearance, Cannan had been released from a hostel at Wormwood Scrubs Prison, where he served a six-year sentence for rape.

He was also connected to the case due to his strong resemblance to an e-fit of her abductor and, according to reports, he was nicknamed Kipper while serving his earlier sentence.

The Met has been leading the search, which continued over the weekend.

Last week, officers dismantled a car garage at the rear of the garden and used angle grinders to dig through its concrete base. Patio slabs have also been removed.

The home was purchased in 1992 from Cannan’s mother Sheila Cannan by the Carey family, who the Met stressed are in no way directly connected to the investigation.

Phillip Carey, an insurance marketer and father-of-two, has said: “Either (the property) is eliminated from it entirely or, if there is something found, it’s closure for the family, and this tragic story can come to an end.”

Police carried out investigations at the address in 2003, following a case review in 2000, but did not dig up the garden.

Jim Dickie, the detective superintendent who led the inquiry between 2000 and 2006, confirmed that his officers did not excavate or perform an “extensive” search of the home.

“We had no evidence or intelligence to lead us to believe that John Cannan may have secreted Suzy’s body there,” he told the BBC.