Saturday 17 March 2018

'I have nightmare wondering what Claudia might have gone through' mum of missing chef

Missing chef Claudia Lawrence
Missing chef Claudia Lawrence

The mother of missing chef Claudia Lawrence says she has nightmares thinking of what might have happened to her daughter.

Joan Lawrence was speaking on the day a 59-year-old, named locally as Michael Snelling, was released on police bail after being questioned on suspicion of murder.

York University chef Miss Lawrence was 35 when she disappeared on the way to work five years ago.

Her mother was in her home town of Darlington where she gave an interview to the Northern Echo newspaper.

She talked of the stress she had suffered since she was told by police about the arrest, and how she was trying desperately to continue with normal life.

Mrs Lawrence told the newspaper's editor Peter Barron: "I don't think anyone could really imagine what it's like, not knowing.

"I have nightmares, wondering what Claudia might have gone through. Had she been calling for me? I just don't know.

"All you can do is live hour by hour, day by day and keep on hoping."

Mrs Lawrence was aware of the way an innocent man's life was wrecked during the investigation into the 2010 murder of Joanna Yates in Bristol, and said the Lawrence family did not want that to happen again.

Police are continuing to search two homes in York and North Shields, North Tyneside, after they released the former lab technician on conditional bail.

In a statement last night, North Yorkshire Police said: "Forensic searches at relevant properties are expected to continue for a number of days.

"Every effort will be made to minimise disruption to local residents and the public affected by this work. North Yorkshire Police would like to thank those people for their patience and understanding.

"As investigations continue with the possibility of further arrests to be made, all sections of the community and the media are reminded and encouraged to respect the rights of others, including those connected to the case.

"It is also important that the investigation team have every opportunity to follow due legal process."

Searches at the houses in Hollywell Road, North Shields, and Burnholme Grove, York, continued throughout yesterday with police using sniffer dogs at both addresses.

Mr Snelling was arrested at the Hollywell Road property on Tuesday morning, according to neighbours.

It was understood to be his mother's home before she moved to a residential facility.

People living near him said he split his time between that address and his run-down semi in Burnholme Grove.

Neighbours said Mr Snelling worked for some time as a lab technician in the biology department at York University but recently started work for a mental health charity.

His York house is about half a mile from the small house in the Heworth area where Miss Lawrence lived alone.

Miss Lawrence was reported missing by her father Peter on March 20, 2009.

She was last seen at around 3.05pm on March 18, walking back towards her home, and that night she spoke to both her parents on the phone.

It is thought something happened to her after she left for work early on March 19.

North Yorkshire Police launched a review of the investigation last year after a new major crime unit was established by the force. Detectives have always said they believe the chef was murdered.

Last year, the new investigation team conducted a detailed, two month re-examination of Miss Lawrence's home.

Then, in March this year, senior officers announced a series of new lines of inquiry on the fifth anniversary of the day she failed to turn up for work. The announcement coincided with a fresh appeal on the BBC's Crimewatch.

They said the new forensic examination of her house uncovered the fingerprints of people who had not yet come forward.

They also found the DNA profile of an unknown man on a cigarette butt in the university chef's Vauxhall Corsa.

Police have said before that Miss Lawrence's mobile and rucksack have never been found.

Press Association

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