THE father and sister of missing Claudia Lawrence have spoken of the “emotional rollercoaster” they have endured since a potential sighting of her in Amsterdam more than three years after she vanished.
Peter Lawrence was joined by his elder daughter, Ali Sims, as he marked his 66th birthday yesterday with a visit to York Racecourse for the John Smith’s Cup Meeting.
They both told the Yorkshire Post of the glimmer of hope that the potential sighting had given them, although Mr Lawrence stressed there had been similar reports across the globe since his daughter went missing in March 2009.
Reported sightings have been made as far afield as North and South America, Spain, Portugal and South Africa, and he admitted Miss Lawrence had no links with the Netherlands.
Mr Lawrence, a solicitor who lives in York, added: “I do take hope from the fact that people are still thinking of Claudia after all this time, and information continues to come in. But it is emotionally draining, because sightings have happened before and have come to nothing.
“Someone out there does know what has happened to Claudia, and I would just ask them to come forward to end our heartache. It is wonderful to have Ali with me today, but both of us miss Claudia so much.”
The Yorkshire Post revealed on Wednesday that a private investigator in Amsterdam had contacted a website, findclaudia.co.uk, and claimed he had seen a woman bearing a “striking resemblance” to Miss Lawrence earlier this month.
Mother-of-two Mrs Sims, 41, who was with her husband, Danny, at the races yesterday, said: “It has been a real emotional rollercoaster, and my first reaction was that it was really good news.
“But then you tell yourself not to raise your hopes too high, as you don’t want to have them dashed again.
“That is not to say that we don’t want people to come forward with information, it is just so hard when something like this happens. I do believe Claudia is still out there somewhere, and I would love her to just walk back through the door one day. That is something that I dream about a great deal.”
Details of the potential sighting in Amsterdam have been passed to North Yorkshire Police, and a force spokeswoman confirmed that detectives are liaising with colleagues in the Dutch capital.
It is the first time the Netherlands have emerged as a potential location for Miss Lawrence, although North Yorkshire Police officers have already focused inquiries abroad.
The investigation has stretched as far afield as Cyprus, where Miss Lawrence used to regularly go on holiday, as well as Ireland as officers interviewed former lovers and friends. Four detectives from North Yorkshire travelled to the Mediterranean island in 2009 to formally interview men who she met while on holidays during the previous five years.
Miss Lawrence was 35 when she was last seen walking near her home in Heworth Road in York on March 18, 2009. Detectives upgraded the missing person inquiry to a murder investigation the following month. But the case has been hampered by Miss Lawrence’s tangled love life, which included relationships with married men who have been unwilling to disclose information to police.