Did police IGNORE vital clue in Suzy Lamplugh murder case?

Did police IGNORE vital clue in Suzy Lamplugh murder case? Witness who saw prime suspect John Cannan hurl suitcase into canal days after she vanished went to police THREE TIMES but information was ‘never passed on’

  • New Sky Crime documentary The Suzy Lamplugh Mystery re-examines case
  • Fulham estate agent Suzy, 25, disappeared in July 1986 and declared dead in ’94
  • Reveals witness who claims to have seen John Cannan dump luggage in Brentford canal three days after she went missing went to police three times
  • Friend of witness said she received phone call from police officer a few months ago to say they’re not pursuing it anymore and claims she felt ‘dismissed’
  • Former head of investigation Jim Dickie says he’d ‘move Heaven and Earth’ to search the waterway for the estate agent’s body if he was still in charge
  • Suzy’s brother Richard Lamplugh says his family has never been able to grieve

A witness who claims to have seen the prime suspect in the Suzy Lamplugh murder case dump a suitcase in a canal three days after her disappearance reported his sighting to police three times but the information was never passed on, a new documentary claims.

Estate agent Suzy, 25, vanished after leaving her Fulham office to meet a client who called himself ‘Mr Kipper’ on July 28, 1986 and was declared dead, presumed murdered in 1994.

The only suspect is John Cannan, 66, who is serving three life sentences at Full Sutton Prison in York after being convicted of the murder of Shirley Banks in Bristol in 1987 and the attempted kidnapping of Julia Holman, as well as the rape of an unnamed woman in Reading in 1986. Prior to this stint behind bars, he served an eight-year jail sentence for rape and theft.

He is believed to have told a former girlfriend that he strangled Suzy and buried her body in concrete, but police were never able to charge him for the crime, and he could be released in 2022. 

A witness who claims to have seen the prime suspect in the Suzy Lamplugh murder case dump a suitcase in a canal three days after her disappearance reported his sighting to police three times but the information was never passed on, a new documentary claims

The only suspect is John Cannan, 66, who is serving three life sentences at Full Sutton Prison in York after being convicted of the murder of Shirley Banks in Bristol in 1987 and the attempted kidnapping of Julia Holman, as well as the rape of an unnamed woman in Reading in 1986

Last year it emerged a man reported seeing Cannan dump a trunk into the Grand Union Canal in Brentford, west London at 5am on the Monday after Suzy disappeared. 

In a new two-part Sky documentary, The Suzy Lamplugh Mystery, former detective superintendent Jim Dickie, who was in charge of a re-investigation into the case, reveals the witness, known as Dave, went to Brentford police station three times to report what he saw, but it was never followed up.

Meanwhile a friend of Dave’s called Anne says he was so convinced it was Cannan he’d seen that he took time off work to attend his trial in Exeter, after recognising his face in the newspaper while reading about the murder of Ms Banks.

‘He said, “That is the man I passed that day”… he noticed very much, there was something about his eyes. There was always a starey-ness about his eyes,’ Anne said. 

Dave died in 2008; after watching Mr Dickie on the TV commenting on another search for Suzy’s body, Anne approached him with her friend’s story. 

In a new two-part Sky documentary, The Suzy Lamplugh Mystery, former detective superintendent Jim Dickie, pictured, who was in charge of a re-investigation into the case, reveals the witness, known as Dave, went to Brentford police station three times to report what he saw, but it was never followed up

Last year it emerged a man reported seeing Cannan dump a trunk into the Grand Union Canal in Brentford, west London at 5am on the Monday after Suzy (pictured) disappeared

Mr Dickie said he believes Dave’s account is ‘reasonable’ because it matched Cannan’s pattern of behaviour. He previously observed that Ms Banks’ body was found in a rural location near a main road, while the Grand Union Canal is close to the A4 and M4. 

‘He likes to dump bodies by water,’ he said. ‘Secondly, that early in the morning, you can get a car down there, if you had a trunk in your boot, you could get it out and wheel it down the towpath, so I find it very, very feasible.

‘[Dave] went to the Brentford police station three times, three times. There should be an officers information in the major incident room with the information he gave, and that should have been followed up… someone screwed up.’

Mr Dickie added that had he been made aware of Dave’s statement when he took over the case in 2000, they ‘could have recovered a body’.

Mr Dickie said had he been made aware of Dave’s statement when he took over the case in 2000, they ‘could have recovered a body’ (pictured: Suzy Lamplugh)

Suzy’s parents Diana Lamplugh, who died in 2011 after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2003, and Paul, who passed away in 2018, never found out who abducted and killed their daughter

‘It wasn’t passed on to the original investigation team, it certainly wasn’t passed on to my team,’ he said. ‘All I will say is, if I was still the senior investigating officer, I would move heaven and earth to see if there is a body in luggage in that area.’ 

In a later scene, Anne reveals she received a phone call from a police officer a couple of months ago telling her they’re ‘not pursuing’ the line of inquiry anymore. 

‘I felt well, perhaps I’ve been dismissed as well,’ she said. 

Ms Lamplugh’s car was found in the evening on the same day she disappeared, parked in a Fulham street a mile from the house, with its handbrake off but with her purse still in the door pocket. Witnesses reported seeing a woman meeting her description arguing with a man outside a property in Shorrolds Road at about 1pm on July 28, 1986.

John Cannan was filmed for the Suitor Dating Agency just six weeks before he was arrested for abducting and murdering Shirley Banks in October 1987

Cannan had been living at a west London bail hostel, and according to Mr Dickie, he frequently climbed out of the window at night and frequented pubs, clubs and wine bars in the Fulham area.

Six years later, the Metropolitan Police revealed Cannan was its prime suspect in the case – but the Crown Prosecution Service ruled there was insufficient evidence to prosecute. 

Speaking about his impending release, Mirror journalist Rob Chaytor told the Sky documentary he is still in touch with one of his victims, who has a police panic button by her phone.

‘She showed it to me, that’s a direct route to the local nick – it was still thought by the police that Cannan could still get at his previous victims, and I know two of them have direct police protection,’ he said.

The disappearance of Suzy Lamplugh (right) in July 1986, captured the nation’s attention as it was impossible to believe that the vivacious estate agent, aged 25, could simply vanish off the busy streets of Fulham, West London

Suzy pictured with her mother Diana,who saw her for the last time the weekend before she went missing

Suzy’s brother Richard also speaks, and admits his family have ‘never been able to grieve’ for his sister as a result of her body never being found.

‘You get to the stage where you don’t grieve because you want to stay as positive as possible,’ he said. ‘You feel sad but you don’t want to mourn her loss because you don’t want to betray her, you don’t want to think the worst.’

He added that the thought of Cannan being released from prison is ‘really upsetting’, both for his family and those of his other victims.

‘I think it’s really upsetting for the people he’s raped and murdered before or after Suze as well,’ he said. 

Suzy’s brother Richard also speaks, and admits his family have ‘never been able to grieve’ for his sister as a result of her body never being found

Suzy worked at the Sturgis estate agents, having been hired on spot as a negotiator when she strode into the office asking for a job, and was put in the window desk as ‘the most attractive female’

In a previous Channel 5 documentary, Cannan’s brother blamed him for their father’s death and revealed how the family ‘begged’ him to admit to Suzy’s murder

‘I think they should be the ones who should be more upset than me because we haven’t got proof that he’s the man that killed Suze, but the evidence points that way. I don’t really care for the man, I don’t want to meet him, as far as I’m concerned he’s nothing to me.’ 

In a previous Channel 5 documentary, Cannan’s brother blamed him for their father’s death and revealed how the family ‘begged’ him to admit to Suzy’s murder, branding him a ‘power freak’ who doesn’t have a ‘modicum of regret, conscience or compassion’ and will ‘take all his secrets to the grave’.

The estate agent’s disappearance is one of the most puzzling cases of the 20th century. Suzy’s mother Diana Lamplugh died in 2011 after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2003, and her father Paul passed away in 2018. Richard and Suzy’s sisters Tamsin and Lizzie still look forward to the day the mystery is solved.  

The Suzy Lamplugh Mystery airs on Sky Crime on March 14 at 9pm and 10pm.

Suzy Lamplugh: Timeline of one of the UK’s most notorious cold cases

July 28 1986: Ms Lamplugh leaves her estate agency office in Fulham, west London, at 12.40pm to meet a client called Mr Kipper. At 10pm, her white Ford Fiesta is discovered in Stevenage Road, Fulham. The doors are unlocked, the handbrake is off and the ignition keys are gone. Her purse, still containing £15, is in the pocket of the driver’s door. A massive police hunt is launched. 

December 1986: The Suzy Lamplugh Trust is set up by Suzy’s parents, Paul and Diana Lamplugh, to tackle violence and support stalking victims.

October 1987: With few leads, the police inquiry into the disappearance is closed. The file remains open.

April 1989: John Cannan is jailed for life with a minimum of 35 years for the murder of newlywed Shirley Banks in Bristol. He is also sentenced for a rape and an attempted kidnap.

February 1994: Ms Lamplugh is officially declared dead, presumed murdered.

December 1999: Her mother receives new information from a secret source claiming her daughter’s body could be within the grounds of abandoned Army barracks at Norton, Worcestershire. Scotland Yard says the information is not new but orders a review because of the complex twists in the case.

December 4 2000: Cannan is questioned in prison in connection with the kidnap and murder of Ms Lamplugh. No charges are brought.

December 11 2000: Officers begin a fingertip search of a disused brickworks and a surrounding copse and lake near Norton Barracks in Worcestershire. Investigators return to the scene several times but are not thought to have made significant developments.

June 14 2002: Police submit a new file to the CPS to examine if there is enough evidence to prosecute a suspect.

November 5 2002: Mr Lamplugh speaks of his ‘anger and frustration’ at news the CPS will not charge Cannan, citing insufficient evidence.

December 2002: Reports first surface that Ms Lamplugh may be buried in the garden of the West Midlands home previously owned by the suspect’s mother, Sheila. There is talk of excavating the garden in Sutton Coldfield but Jim Dickie, the detective superintendent leading the investigation at the time, later confirmed his officers did not dig or perform an ‘extensive’ search of the home.

August 2010: Police end their search in a meadow between Pershore and Drakes Broughton in Worcestershire with no remains found.

August 18 2011: Mrs Lamplugh dies aged 75 after suffering a stroke.

June 12 2018: At the age of 87, Mr Lamplugh dies after living with Parkinson’s disease. His death ends hopes that the parents may see justice for their daughter.

October 29 2018: Investigators led by the Metropolitan Police return to Cannan’s mother’s former home in Shipton Road, Sutton Coldfield, to prepare to excavate its garden in the hope of ending the 32-year mystery.

November 2 2018: Cannan reiterates his innocence in the case, saying through his solicitor that he hopes the search of the property will conclude swiftly to ‘end speculation’ that he was responsible.

November 12 2018: The ‘painstaking’ two-week search of the garden finds no evidence. Police insist the case remains open.

July 3 2019: Police begin searching land in Pershore, Worcestershire following new information about the disappearance. 

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