DETECTIVES investigating the disappearance of York chef Claudia Lawrence have released fresh appeals and new evidence but say there is still no prime suspect.

Details of seven fresh leads are today made public by Chief Superintendent Simon Mason, head of crime, and Detective Superintendent Dai Malyn, head of the MCU, on the fifth anniversary of Claudia's disappearance.

They include:

  • New CCTV footage of a mystery man
  • DNA found on a cigarette in Claudia's car
  • The fact that her hair straighteners were missing from her home
  • The revelation of mystery finger-prints found in her house
  • She had used her phone in the Acomb area in the weeks before her disappearance

Crimestoppers also announced a £10,000 reward for information which could assist the investigation.

Chief Supt Mason said a cold-case review that began last autumn was "producing progressive results", and allowed officers to examine information from the original investigation using new methods "as if the incident had just occurred".

He said: "We believe the very real possibility still exists that this appeal will, even five years later, produce new information that could be of particular significance to the case."

All the new information will be posted online from 9.30pm on Wednesday, along with all previous appeals for information into Claudia's disappearance, following the BBC's Crimewatch which will include more previously-unreleased lines of inquiry - reported in television listings as including appeals for information about two vehicles.

Chief Supt Mason said recent speculation in national media had been incorrect, stating there were "a number of individuals who remain and are of particular interest to this investigation", and no "prime suspect".

He said: "I need to make it absolutely clear that there is not, there is not a prime suspect in this case and nor is there any individual who can be deemed to be classified as suspect status."

Det Supt Malyn said that following an assessment of Claudia's home by the National Crime Agency, detectives now "favour the theory that Claudia probably left the house that morning", and further forensic tests on the house last summer brought forward new evidence.

He said: "As a result of the new techniques we used we have raised a number of fingerprints within that house and that tells me there are still people who are yet to come forward who have been in that house either before during or after her disappearance. The elimination process is quite simple, I would ask those people to come forward."

Det Supt Malyn said he hoped making the appeals available online would encourage the public to look at all the available information.

He said: "I would like people to look at the microsite at all the information and give us that information that will give us something really significant and potentially a breakthrough.

"People can log on in their own time and look at it all and I'm optimistic that in doing that, the right person will come forward with the right information that we need."

*The full information will go live at 9.30pm at

New CCTV appeal

POLICE released this CCTV image of a man in the Co-Op store in Tang Hall, taken on the morning of April 1, 2009, two weeks after Claudia went missing.

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He told staff he knew Claudia or used to work with her, and despite enquiries he was never traced.

The man is described as black, aged in his late 20s, about 5ft 8ins tall, slim build and he spoke with an African accent. He was wearing a light baseball-style cap with a darker peak with a "NASA" motif, a zip-up cardigan with the motif "Beverley Hills Polo" on the breast , blue jeans and white trainers with a pink stripe.

Det Supt Malyn said: "The original investigation carried out enquires to locate this man. It is hoped this fresh appeal together with some CCTV images will help us identify who he is.

"I am urging this man to come forward to assist the investigation. Or if someone recognises him from the CCTV image taken from inside the shop, please contact the police."

New forensic techniques

USING new techniques not available to police in 2009, last year's forensic examination of Claudia's Heworth home has found a number of fingerprints around the house.

Det Supt Malyn said: "That tells me there are still people who are yet to come forward who have been in that house either before during or after her disappearance. The elimination process is quite simple, I would ask those people to come forward.

"Not doing so only raises questions as to why you wouldn't. There is also other DNA material from items examined in the house that have been recovered. Forensic work is ongoing in respect of these items."

Forensic investigators also established a male DNA profile from an Embassy Regal cigarette butt found in Claudia's Vauxhall Corsa, which was being repaired at a local garage when she disappeared.

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Det Supt Malyn said: "It is vital that we trace this man as soon as possible as he could have important information.

"We need to know if Claudia had any male friends, colleagues or acquaintances who were known to smoke in her car. From speaking to Claudia's friends, it wasn't unusual for people to smoke in her car or her home."

New mobile phone analysis

ANALYSIS of Claudia's phone records show she spent time in the Acomb area in the weeks prior to her disappearance, and police want to find out who with.

Police also believe the silver Samsung D900 was deliberately turned off by someone at about 12.10pm on Thursday, March 19, 2009.

Det Supt Malyn said: "Claudia used her mobile phone intensively so it is unlikely she would allow it to run out of battery. Also, her mobile phone charger was still in her house. From looking at her phone records, we anticipate that she would have wanted to use that phone during her breaks at work and then when walking back home. So for it to naturally run out of battery would not be the norm.

"Further analysis of Claudia's mobile phone, particularly cell site activity, also shows she was in the Acomb area of York in the weeks leading up to her disappearance. We believe she may have been socialising with a person or persons. Again, we would like to know who this was and where it was taking place."

Det Supt Malyn said any personal or sensitive information can be discussed discreetly with trained officers.

Missing hair straighteners

DETECTIVES said yesterday they believed Claudia had left for work on the morning of March 19, 2009, and items from Claudia's home were of particular interest to police, including missing hair straighteners, and an empty box of hair dye.

Det Supt Malyn said: "From the review of all the evidence available, including the fact that Claudia's bed was made and it appears that she had eaten breakfast and brushed her teeth, it is our belief that she had left for work.

"What is unusual is that Claudia's GHD hair straighteners - model number 14.4.1B and purchased in May 2007 - were missing from her home. From our enquiries, it is doubtful that she would take them to work in her blue and grey Karrimor bag which has also never been found."

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Det Supt Malyn said the location of the missing straighteners could be "crucial to the investigation", and said although Claudia had blonde highlights, the empty box of hair dye and rubber gloves could suggest otherwise.

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He said: "There is a possibility that Claudia may also have been colouring another person's hair. If anyone knows about this or it was you, please come forward now."

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Arguing couple and the left-handed smoker

POLICE have renewed appeals for sightings of a man and woman seen arguing in University Road, at about 6.10am on March 19, 2009 - about the time Claudia was due to start her shift at the University of York.

A member of the public reported seeing the "animated argument" next to a parked car with the passenger-side door open, and Det Supt Malyn said the incident "remains a significant line of enquiry which we are determined to resolve".

He said: "The fact that the apparent verbal altercation between the man and woman occurred outside the University of York at a time when Claudia would have been arriving at work on Thursday, March 19, 2009, is obviously a cause for concern and suspicion.

"If this man and woman are entirely unconnected to the disappearance of Claudia Lawrence but have decided not to come forward previously for whatever reason, then I strongly urge them to contact the investigation team so we can rule out this line of enquiry."

Another appeal from 2009 was the identity of a man seen with a woman on Melrosegate Bridge at about 5.35am on March 19. He was smoking a cigarette with his left hand, and described as about 5ft 6in tall with a skinny build. He was wearing a dark hooded top with the hood up, and dark-coloured combat trousers with pockets on the side.

The woman was shorter with mousey brown hair and was wearing a blue, waist-length jacket.

Det Supt Malyn said despite previous appeals, none of the individuals had been identified, but said it was possible the two incidents could be related.

He said: "The reason why I still think that's significant and we need an explanation for it is the male arguing with the female was wearing a dark coloured hoodie.

"In particular, the man who smokes with his left hand could be significant to the investigation in relation to the male DNA profile found on a cigarette butt in Claudia's car. Somebody out there knows who this man is and it's time that they come forward."


Anyone with information should phone North Yorkshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.