WHEN estate agent Suzy Lamplugh vanished 35 years ago, her grieving mum Diana vowed no other parent should have to lose a daughter this way.

But Suzy’s brother Richard says the disappearance of Sarah Everard, from Clapham last week, brings back painful memories of his own family loss and proves the work of the Suzy Lamplugh Trust – set up by Diana to promote safety for women – is not done.

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“Reading about Sarah, I feel so sad for her parents and her family,” he tells the Sun.

"It's tragic and so sad that another life has been taken in this way. These things shouldn't happen.

“It would be lovely to just wind the trust up and say, ‘we've done our job’ but these horrific crimes are still going on.”

Suzy, then 25, went missing in July 1986, after scheduling an appointment with a “Mr Kipper” in her work diary.

Her disappearance is one of the most famous unsolved crimes in the UK, and her body has never been found.


Now the Sky Crime documentary, The Mystery of Suzy Lamplugh, which airs this Sunday, reveals new clues to back up the theory that John Cannan, jailed in 1989 for the murder of 29-year-old Shirley Banks, was behind her abduction.

Cannan has always denied the charge and Suzy’s parents, Diana and Paul, went to their graves without finding the answers they craved.

Now after decades of torment and numerous attempts to find her remains, Richard, 61, says his family are resigned to the fact they will never be able to lay his sister to rest.

“We will probably never have a body,” he says. “There have been so many false dawns on that but we’ll never be able to bury her where we would like to, rather than where her killer wanted to bury her.

“We have never been able to grieve for Suze and we would love to have somewhere we could remember her.”

'Stalked or groomed' by mystery man

In a previously unreleased picture of the four siblings, Suzy, Richard and little sister Lizzy smile broadly as they prepare to wave Tamsin, then 24, off to a year’s work in New Zealand.

Tragically the picture, taken at Heathrow in 1985, was the last time they would ever be together.

A few months later, on July 28 1986, Suzy walked out of her Fulham office for a house viewing, and never returned.


Her Ford Fiesta was later discovered in Stevenage Road – about a mile from the viewing in Shorrolds Road.

It was unlocked, with the handbrake off and her purse in the door – suggesting she hadn’t expected to leave it for long.

Witnesses saw a woman who looked like Suzy arguing with a man close to a black BMW in Shorrolds Road.

Another described the man in a suit, with dark hair slicked back, carrying a bottle of champagne.

According to the documentary, police failed to follow up on a lead from a third witness who saw a black BMW shoot out of Stevenage Road at speed, with a blonde passenger leaning on the car horn.

The witness said the woman looked like she was laughing “but could have been screaming.”

Richard, who was working on an Aberdeen fish farm at the time, says police were slow to act.

“In those days, I don’t think they took missing people as seriously as they do today,” he says.

"But I wish they had followed it up and perhaps Shirley Banks wouldn’t have died.”

While the investigation focussed on the identity of ‘Mr Kipper’, Richard says he believes Suzy’s assailant was someone she knew and she may have got into his car willingly.

“I'm sure Suze was stalked,” he says. “We don't know but I think he groomed her and got her to do what he wanted.”


Desperate to see sister at her own memorial

In the weeks following Suzy’s disappearance the family clung to the hope that she was alive, perhaps suffering from amnesia after a fall.

But when she failed to turn up, missing her parents’ birthdays and other family dates, they began to fear she was dead.

“We tried to keep positive because you don't want to think the worst but eventually you think maybe she has gone," says Richard.

“After a few months we held a memorial service for her but, even then, I was hoping I'd turn around and see her walking down the aisle. She didn’t.

“At that point, I'd come to the conclusion that she was probably dead.”

Sinister number plate on murder victim's mini

The trail had gone cold by October 1987 when sales manager Shirley Banks, 29, vanished on a late night shopping trip in Bristol.

Three weeks later, John Cannan attempted to abduct a female shop assistant by knifepoint in Leamington Spa and was arrested as he fled to his black BMW.

Police found Shirley Banks' repainted mini in Cannan’s garage. Chillingly the number plate had been changed to SLP 386 – which many believe is a reference to Suzy and the year she died.

In April 1989, Cannan was jailed for life for the murder of newlywed Shirley – whose body was found at an Iron Age fort in Somerset six months after she vanished.

Cannan had been discharged from a prison hostel just three days before Suzy's disappearance, after serving five years for rape.

Fellow prisoners at the hostel told police they called him “Kipper” because he loved fish and slept a lot.

Despite the clues, and his resemblance to the photofit of Mr Kipper, Cannan has never been charged with Suzy’s murder – and Richard says his confession could help end the family’s pain.

“The police seem convinced he was the person and all the evidence points that way but I can't say that he's definitely the man because he hasn't admitted to it,” he says.

"If he did kill Suze, it's really upsetting for the people he's raped and murdered before or after Suzy."


Body 'dumped in suitcase in canal'?

In the 35 years since Suzy died, new leads have led to numerous searches for her body.

The garden of Cannan’s mother Sheila, in Sutton Coldfield, was excavated in 2018 and a garage knocked down, but no remains were found.

Last year it emerged a witness called Dave reported seeing a man who looked like Cannan dump a trunk into the Grand Union Canal in Brentford, at 5am, on the Monday after Suzy disappeared.

In the documentary, former detective superintendent Jim Dickie, who led a re-investigation into the case, reveals Dave, went to Brentford police station three times to report the sighting, but it was never followed up.

Dave, who died in 2008, recognised Cannan in the paper and told a friend there “was a starey-ness about his eyes”.

“There should be an officer’s information in the major incident room with the information he gave," says Dickie. "And that should have been followed up. Someone screwed up.'

Dickie added that had he been told of Dave's statement when he took over the case in 2000, they “could have recovered a body”.


Grieving mum refused to cry

Since her disappearance the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, set up by Diana and Paul in 1986, has helped firms establish safer working practices for female staff including solicitors being given escape routes before going into prison.

They have also pushed through anti-stalking and anti-harassment legislation, and the licensing of minicabs, as well as running a hotline for victims of stalking.

Diana died after suffering a stroke and developing Alzheimers in 2011 and Paul passed away seven years later.

“My mum was a strong but loving woman,” says Richard.

“She never broke down in tears in public. She wanted to show strength to whoever had taken Suze and didn't want him to see he was getting to us.

“My parents thought about Suze every day of their lives, but we never properly grieved as a family because, at first, you want to keep positive and by the time you accept that she’s gone, the grieving time has passed.”

The dad-of-two, who lives in Aberdeen with wife Christine, says the loss of his sister has often made him anxious about his own daughters, aged 18 and 14.

“There are times when you think about it, but I think you've got to let them fly,” he says.

“We talk to them about Suze, and try to get them to think about their own safety but you don’t want to suppress their enjoyment of life.

“Suze was a lively, outgoing woman who always said ‘life is for living’. I think that’s something we should all live by.”

The Mystery of Suzy Lamplugh airs on Sky Crime on 14th March at 9pm & 10pm

The Suzy Lamplugh Trust operates a National Stalking Helpline 0808 802 0300

 

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