Mum of chef who vanished 12 years ago ‘saddened’ as police end lake search

The mum of missing chef Claudia Lawrence said she is “saddened” the police search of a beauty spot had failed to provide her with any answers, after a “terrible” two weeks.

On Sunday afternoon police hunting for Joan Lawrence’s missing daughter, announced they had finished their search of a North Yorkshire beauty spot.

In a statement they said Sand Hutton Gravel pits “could have a major relevance in explaining what happened to Claudia.”

But they said nothing “of significance” had been found during their 12 day search which involved draining a small fishing lake and searching woodland.

Joan Lawrence, 78, said: “It’s been a terrible fortnight, I’ve hardly slept,” she told The Mirror.

Police are searching Sand Hutton Gravel Pits in York, near where Claudia was last seen


Ben Lack/YappApp)

“I’ve been on edge and I’m saddened that there are still no answers but at least I still have hope.

“The police have assured me their enquiries will be ongoing.”

Detective Superintendent Wayne Fox, Head of the Major Investigation Team, said a small number of items were recovered during the two-week search.

But he said whilst these items are being assessed for their forensic potential, any relevance to Claudia’s disappearance has not currently been established.

Teams of police search experts, specially trained search dogs, divers and forensic archaeologists have been taking part in the search.

Their work began on Tuesday, August 24 with officers marking out the undergrowth to search.

Det Supt Fox, who is leading the enquiry, said that separate strands of information had been received by detectives investigating Claudia’s disappearance.

He said: “When we assessed these separate and independently-sourced pieces of information against the wealth of information already generated during the last 12 years, we found they correlated with other information pointing to the area of Sand Hutton.

“We then consulted a number of national experts in various different disciplines and concluded that we could not discount the possibility that Sand Hutton Gravel Pits could have a major relevance in explaining what happened to Claudia.

Police at the scene during the search operation


Andy Commins / Daily Mirror)

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“Armed with fresh information to the enquiry, that seemed to corroborate known facts, we were duty bound to conduct thorough searches of the area.

“Not searching was not an option – not for Claudia, not for her family, and not for the wider public.”

He added: “As a result of the publicity surrounding the last two weeks, members of the public have come forward with new information for which I am grateful.

“This will be assessed and investigated in the coming days and weeks.”

Appearing to refer to Claudia’s mum’s request in The Mirror for them to look at potential links with cabbie killer Christopher Halliwell, the police said: “I would like to stress, however, that we are not liaising with any other police force in relation to these new lines of enquiry.”

He went on: “As I hope the events of the last two weeks demonstrate, we are committed to establishing what happened to Claudia and bringing closure for her family.

“You cannot fail to be moved by the ongoing suffering of a mother who does not know what has happened to her daughter.

“I again repeat the request to those who know what has happened to Claudia, to do the right thing, come forward and help end the torment of Claudia’s family.”

If you have any information that could assist the investigation, please contact North Yorkshire Police on 101, select option 1, and pass details to the Force Control Room quoting “Claudia Lawrence”.

Police began searching two isolated fishing lakes for missing Claudia Lawrence on Tuesday, August 24.

North Yorkshire Police confirmed it was searching for the chef at Sand Hutton Gravel Pits, eight miles north of York.

The smaller of the two was then drained on Wednesday, September 1 to allow for fingertip searches to take place.

Sand Hutton Gravel Pits in York


Ben Lack/YappApp)

It has been just over 12 years since Claudia, of Heworth, York, went missing on March 18, 2009, aged 35.

She had been employed as a chef at the University of York but failed to turn up for work.

Although detectives have treated her disappearance as a suspected murder, a body has never been found.

Nine people have been questioned by police, but no charges were brought.

The woods surround a the nearby village of Buttercrambe and are just half a mile away from the police searches.

Claudia’s mum said she talked to the police about this sighting many years ago, she said and was told by one officer she could go and search the woods herself.

As far as she was aware, the woods were never searched.

Making an appeal for anyone with any information to get in contact, she said: “If anyone knows anything but they don’t feel they can go to the police please tell me.”

Jen King, one of Claudia’s closest friends, welcomed the police activity. She said: “At least it shows they are doing something.”

Claudia’s mum is now calling on police investigate Christopher Halliwell



Joan has also called on police to investigate killer Christopher Halliwell amid fears he could be connected to her daughter’s disappearance.

She told the Mirror: “Something has always bothered me about Halliwell and leaves me feeling very uneasy.

“The police may not have proved he had anything to do with my daughter’s disappearance, but they haven’t disproved it either.”

Cabbie Halliwell, is serving life for killing Sian O’Callaghan, 22, and Becky Godden, 20, who he abducted after they left nightclubs in Swindon, Wilts.

Several witnesses claim they spotted someone they believe could have been Halliwell in the York area.

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The New Millennium Serial Killer book claims Halliwell targeted petite women, including Claudia, for 20 years.

It is claimed Claudia and Halliwell could have been the couple seen having a heated conversation in a van two weeks before she vanished.

And another woman claims she had a near miss when Halliwell tried to get her into his van in the city.

Joan said: “Claudia has been missing for so long now, surely any possible link needs thoroughly investigating?”

Speaking of her strong Christian faith, Joan said: It will give me courage and strength to get through.

“If you give up hope, you might as well give up altogether.”

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