Claudia inquiry: Mystery of pair spotted near home of missing York chef

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Previously unseen CCTV footage of two people walking near missing chef Claudia Lawrence’s home on the evening of her disappearance has been released by detectives.

North Yorkshire Police appealed to local residents for help to identify the people seen in the footage, which was screened on a ‘digivan’ near Miss Lawrence’s house in York this evening.

The university chef was last seen six years ago on Wednesday March 18, 2009 and has not been found despite the force carrying out the highest-profile investigation in its history. Detectives now believe she was murdered.

The CCTV footage released last night shows one person walking down Heworth Place, near an alleyway at the rear of Miss Lawrence’s terraced house, before returning just over a minute later with what appears to be a bag over their shoulder.

The person stops as someone else walks past before continuing on to Heworth Road.

It was filmed at 7.15pm on March 18, a short time before Miss Lawrence spoke to her parents on the phone.

CCTV footage dated 18/03/09 of a man place want to identify (right) leaving Heworth Place, off Heworth Road, a short time later, near the home of missing chef Claudia Lawrence

CCTV footage dated 18/03/09 of a man place want to identify (right) leaving Heworth Place, off Heworth Road, a short time later, near the home of missing chef Claudia Lawrence

Miss Lawrence, who would have been 41 last month, failed to turn up for her 6am shift at York University on March 19 and was reported missing by her father on Friday March 20.

The alleyway leading to the rear of Miss Lawrence’s terraced house was searched by police last month and is said to be of “growing significance” to the investigation.

The CCTV, released for the first time by North Yorkshire Police, was screened on a digital advertising van on Heworth Place between 3pm and 9pm today. Local residents were leafleted earlier this week and encouraged to view the images.

Detective Superintendent Dai Malyn, who is leading the investigation, said: “Of particular interest to the investigation team is the person who is seen walking down Heworth Place, which leads to the back of Claudia’s house.

Missing chef Claudia Lawrence.

Missing chef Claudia Lawrence.

“The person goes out of camera shot but reappears just over a minute later. They appear to be carrying a bag over their shoulder.

“As the person heads back towards Heworth Road they suddenly stop when another unknown person walks past. Who is this? Do they live locally? What were they doing?

“If you can help to identify either person, please contact us as soon as possible. We are waiting to hear from you.”

Earlier, Mr Malyn said he believes some local people who knew Miss Lawrence “actively sought to keep that a secret” while others lied about their links with her.

Detective Superintendent Dai Malyn, of North Yorkshire Police, who is searching for missing chef Claudia Lawrence.

Detective Superintendent Dai Malyn, of North Yorkshire Police, who is searching for missing chef Claudia Lawrence.

And he urged those who were yet to admit fully their relationship with the missing woman or the events in the days leading up to her disappearance to come forward.

He said: “If I reach the point where we believe people continue to obstruct this investigation or assist or cover up for the person or persons responsible, they will be arrested.”

Speaking in York today, Miss Lawrence’s father Peter said: “To have had six years without her company, without her chat, her smile, her laugh, meeting her for a drink, days out and meals out - it tells.

“I just miss that companionship, that love so much that it just really hurts so much. It galls me that someone out there knows what happened to Claudia but has not said anything.”