Claudia Lawrence: Arrest follows new Crimewatch appeal

York Press: North Yorkshire Police’s head of major crime, Dai Malyn, foreground, and detective chief superintendent Simon Mason at the press conference in March this year North Yorkshire Police’s head of major crime, Dai Malyn, foreground, and detective chief superintendent Simon Mason at the press conference in March this year

THE arrest of the 59-year-old York man comes almost two months after detectives made a fresh appeal on BBC's Crimewatch, to mark the fifth anniversary of Claudia’s disappearance.

Detective Superintendent Dai Malyn, head of the new Major Crimes Unit at North Yorkshire Police, revealed lines of inquiry which had not previously been made public.

They included CCTV footage of a mystery man, two mysterious vehicles including a Ford Focus seen near Claudia's home, DNA found on a cigarette in Claudia's car, the fact that her hair straighteners were missing from her home, and the revelation of mystery finger-prints found in her flat.

In March, Chief Superintendent Simon Mason, head of crime at the force, said there were "a number of individuals who remain and are of particular interest to this investigation", but police had no "prime suspect".

North Yorkshire Police yesterday refused to say whether the arrest stemmed directly from one of these lines of inquiry, and would not say what kind of vehicle had been seized by police.

Claudia was last seen on CCTV March 18, 2009. She failed to arrive for her morning shift as a chef at the University of York the following day, sparking a huge police search.

Detective Superintendent Ray Galloway told The Press in 2009 it was “highly unlikely” she had been abducted by a stranger, and the focus of the investigation was on people Claudia knew.

He also told The Press on March 25, 2009: “There is no tangible evidence she has been harmed, but my professional judgement is that she has probably come to harm.”

Yesterday’s arrest is the first in the five-year investigation which is directly in connection with Claudia’s disappearance and suspected murder.

In July that year, a Selby man was charged and given a conditional discharge costs after he made a drunken phone call to police claiming he had found Claudia’s body under a bush.

In November that year a hoax message was left on Facebook by a teenager from Oxfordshire, purporting to be from Claudia. He was also later arrested and cautioned.

Another hoaxer was jailed in April 2011, and a 66-year-old man was last year reported to police over harassment of the Lawrence family, after he claimed to be a psychic and posted a sketch online of the moment he claims Claudia was murdered. He was allegedly responsible for laying a wreath at Claudia’s home every Christmas.

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