Shock and renewed hope from Claudia Lawrence's friends and family

Claudia’s mother, Joan Lawrence

The first press conference that Peter Lawrence gave at a York Police station in 2009

Published in Claudia Lawrence

CLAUDIA LAWRENCE’S friends and neighbours reacted with shock and renewed hope to the dramatic arrest of murder suspect Michael Snelling.

Her mother, Joan Lawrence, welcomed the fresh investigation but said she was trying not to get her hopes up that the arrest would bring closure.

She told the BBC: “I’m not hoping at all. I’ve been down this road before and we’ve built up our hopes and it’s been dashed so I’m not even hoping at all until I see what’s happened.”

Claudia’s father Peter Lawrence said: “I’m very pleased they appear to be making progress by making this arrest.”

Howard Evans, who lives near Claudia’s home in Heworth Road, said: “I’m surprised it’s taken so long to arrest someone I would have thought most police investigations generally take a short time but it’s a good thing that something has happened.”

Another neighbour said: “You hope that if the person they’ve taken into custody is the one who is responsible, it is to be hoped that it draws closure to the story for the parents’ sake.”

Jen King, a close friend of Claudia, said the arrest was a reminder that “no stone is going to be left unturned” in the investigation.

She said: “It’s such a shock. I thought we would find where Claudia was then we’d find out more about what’s happened. It’s 100 per cent progress, whether it goes anywhere or not.

“People have been arrested before in big cases and had nothing to do with it, but it shows police are taking active interest and looking at people. If they felt so strongly it was appropriate to make an arrest, then good for them.”

Jen said she was sure the latest television appeal, made in March on the fifth anniversary of Claudia’s disappearance, had helped, but she said each new appeal until now had brought similar results.

She said: “It evoked a lot of questions theories and conspiracies but never seems to get anywhere towards resolution but we have got to the point where they have arrested someone even five years later.

"Took me all the way back to the day we realised she had gone missing. Just coming to terms with it but earlier today I was in a bit of a state with myself. The chances are that we knew this person, it’s possible we drank together. It’s exhausting and heartbreaking every day.”

Martin Dales, Peter Lawrence’s friend and spokesman called the arrest “a major milestone”. He said: “In November 2009 when murder first came up those words were very difficult to deal with. That was not easy, particularly when we hold on to the belief that in the absence of Claudia and any sign of any murder or whatever there is still possibility of life.”

Mr Dales also said “the path of justice and the right way of doing these things now needs to be held on to wholeheartedly”, and said: “It would be a huge error if something happened now that might jeopardise a trial or anything else.”

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