Will we ever find out what hap­pened to Suzy?

As a dra­matic new search for the body of es­tate agent Suzy Lam­plugh be­gins 32 years af­ter she van­ished, there are fresh hopes the mys­tery may soon be solved

Closer (UK) - - News - By Mel Fal­low­field

t’s one of the UK’S I most no­to­ri­ous miss­ing per­son cases, which has gone un­solved for over three decades. Now, a dra­matic new search to find the re­mains of es­tate agent Suzy Lam­plugh has thrown the mys­tery back into the head­lines. Last week, spe­cial­ist of­fi­cers be­gan ex­ca­vat­ing the pa­tio and a garage in the grounds of the house in Sut­ton Cold­field, where the mother of the prime sus­pect – con­victed rapist John Can­nan – used to live. They were act­ing on a tip-off claim­ing Suzy’s body could be en­cased in con­crete in a ve­hi­cle in­spec­tion pit. As Closer went to press, po­lice were on the fifth day of dig­ging at the prop­erty, and were un­able to com­ment on when it was likely to be con­cluded.

With the fresh hunt un­der­way, a damn­ing re­port into the orig­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion emerged – which cat­a­logued a host of blun­ders, and al­leged that the se­nior in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cer at the time, Det Supt Mal­colm Hack­ett, re­sented Suzy’s dis­traught mother Diana’s de­mands that Can­nan should be ques­tioned.

It emerged that the of­fi­cer had fallen out with Diana – who was adamant that Can­nan was her daugh­ter’s killer – and it’s al­leged that Hack­ett failed to prop­erly in­ter­view Can­nan, put him on ID pa­rades, de­brief an im­por­tant wit­ness (Can­nan’s ex-girl­friend Gilly Paige, who later claimed he’d joked he was Mr Kip­per) and check his al­ibi for the day of Suzy’s dis­ap­pear­ance. The re­port said, “This ap­pears to have in­flu­enced Mr Hack­ett into never se­ri­ously con­sid­er­ing Can­nan as a per­son who could have ab­ducted and mur­dered Suzy.”


Suzy dis­ap­peared aged 25 on 28 July 1986. The es­tate agent had been to visit a client, noted in her diary as Mr Kip­per – whom po­lice have never been able to iden­tify – at a house in Ful­ham, south-west Lon­don. She was last seen hav­ing an ar­gu­ment with a man out­side a prop­erty. A wit­ness said they saw Can­nan star­ing into the es­tate agents’ win­dow where Suzy worked, shortly be­fore her dis­ap­pear­ance.

Three days be­fore Suzy went miss­ing, Can­nan had been re­leased from Worm­wood Scrubs Prison – lo­cated in the Ful­ham area – where he had been serv­ing a six-year sen­tence for rape, and ac­cord­ing to re­ports was nick­named “Kip­per” by his in­mates. The former car sales­man had ac­cess to a BMW of the type thought to have been driven by “Mr Kip­per” and bore a strong re­sem­blance to an e-fit of Suzy’s ab­duc­tor.

Shock­ingly, it was be­lieved the pair may have pre­vi­ously dated as Suzy had en­joyed a brief re­la­tion­ship with a “mys­tery man”, and po­lice un­earthed ev­i­dence that it was Can­nan – with a wit­ness say­ing she had seen the pair ly­ing in a lo­cal park to­gether with a bot­tle of Cham­pagne. Can­nan was known for show­er­ing women with gifts of flow­ers and bub­bly.

Over the years, ex pub­lic school boy Can­nan has been the only sus­pect in Suzy’s dis­ap­pear­ance. He had a host of pre­vi­ous con­vic­tions, in­clud­ing rape and at­tempted ab­duc­tion, and was found guilty of the rape and mur­der of new­ly­wed Shirley Banks, a 29-year-old tex­tiles man­ager from Clifton in Bris­tol, in Oc­to­ber 1989. In an­other twist, it was re­vealed that Ms Banks’ Mini had later been dis­cov­ered in Can­nan’s garage, re­sprayed and with a new number plate SLP 386S – which has led to spec­u­la­tion it con­tained Suzy’s ini­tials and a ref­er­ence to the year of her dis­ap­pear­ance.

Can­nan is cur­rently serv­ing life in prison, with a min­i­mum tar­iff of 35 years – mean­ing he won’t be el­i­gi­ble for pa­role un­til 2024. In an­other twist, an un­named rel­a­tive last week told a news­pa­per that they be­lieved Can­nan would wait un­til his

mother, now aged 96, had died be­fore he would con­sider re­veal­ing any in­for­ma­tion he might be with­hold­ing about Suzy’s dis­ap­pear­ance.

How­ever, Can­nan’s so­lic­i­tor later re­leased a state­ment say­ing his client “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”.


De­spite an in­ten­sive search, Suzy’s body was never found and she was of­fi­cially de­clared dead, pre­sumed mur­dered, in 1994, with the crime re­main­ing un­solved. But now the search has re­newed fol­low­ing “new ev­i­dence”. Of­fi­cers are fo­cus­ing on a former me­chanic’s pit used by Can­nan to tin­ker with cars, which was filled with con­crete around the time of her mur­der. Trag­i­cally, if Suzy’s body is now found, it will be too late for her mother Diana, 75, who died in 2011, and her fa­ther Paul, 87, who died in June this year. The pair worked tire­lessly to try to find out what had hap­pened to their daugh­ter. And just four months af­ter she dis­ap­peared, they set up the Suzy Lam­plugh Trust to pro­mote per­sonal safety for women. They both re­ceived OBES in 2004 for their work. Suzy’s sib­lings – sis­ters Tam­sin, 56, and Lizzie, 47, and brother Richard, 58 – spoke out in light of this sixth new in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Lizzie said, “We hope Suzy’s body will be found and we can have the clo­sure we re­ally need.” Richard added, “I’d like to see Suzy given a proper burial in a nice place, where I can go to re­mem­ber her. I don’t like to think of her ly­ing un­der a drive­way or wher­ever she is. My mum and dad spent all their time look­ing for her, so I think she should go in be­side them. It would be good to re­unite them.”


De­spite their grief, Suzy’s par­ents had trav­elled the coun­try giv­ing talks and or­gan­is­ing con­fer­ences about per­sonal safety. The Suzy Lam­plugh Trust cam­paigned for changes in the law, in­clud­ing mea­sures to com­bat ha­rass­ment and stalk­ing, the reg­is­tra­tion of sex of­fend­ers and the reg­is­tra­tion of mini cabs.

The trust’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, Rachel Grif­fin, told Closer the trust has wel­comed this lat­est de­vel­op­ment. She says, “The hope is that there’s a res­o­lu­tion and clo­sure. Suzy’s story is re­mark­able – one mo­ment she was an or­di­nary woman, go­ing to work, and the next she dis­ap­peared. She’s some­one we can all iden­tify with. That’s why learn­ing about per­sonal safety is so im­por­tant. It’s vi­tal for you to check in and check out if you’re go­ing out alone, and al­ways trust your in­stincts. If you feel un­com­fort­able, leave. Paul and Diana al­ways wanted to talk about Suzy, to high­light the im­por­tance of stay­ing safe. And if noth­ing else, this lat­est de­vel­op­ment has put that firmly back in the news.”


Suzy dis­ap­peared 32 years ago

Can­nan is serv­ing life in prison

Her par­ents cam­paigned tire­lessly

Suzy’s brother, Richard…

… and her sis­ters Tam­sin and Lizzie

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