Libby Squire: The biggest missing person investigation in Humberside Police's history

When Humberside Police received a call from the friends of 21-year-old Hull student who had failed to return home after a night out at 2.45am on February 1, 2019, little did they know they were about to begin the biggest investigation in the force's history. Here, The Yorkshire Post takes a look at the police investigation and how they secured some justice for Libby Squire's family by putting murderer and rapist Pawel Relowicz behind bars.

When Libby had been refused entry for being too drunk from the Welly nightclub just after 11.30pm the previous night, her friends made sure she got in a taxi, paid the driver the correct fare and gave him her address on Wellesley Avenue, about a mile-and-a-half away.

They assumed the philosophy student had got back home and gone straight to bed. It wasn't until they had heard nothing from her and text another housemate to check if she was home and wasn't that alarm bells started to ring.

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After driving around the streets looking for Libby, her friends made that phone call to the police, unaware that she was probably already dead in the River Hull.

Libby Squire captured on CCTV arriving at the Welly nightclub in Beverley Road at around 11.30pm on January 31, 2019.

Police, led by Senior Investigating Officer Detective Superintendent Martin Smalley, initially treated the case as a Missing Persons investigation and started to piece together the night by taking statements from Libby's friends and examining hundreds of hours of CCTV footage.

The taxi that picked Libby up was seen on Beverley Road at around 11.30pm, but from witness accounts they soon established that Libby never made it to her front door and instead wandered along Wellesley Avenue,ending up outside a house on the corner of there and Beverley Road. Students living in that house described her as "crying and upset". They tried to establish where she lived, but to no avail and Libby left.

CCTV footage picked her up walking up Beverley Road, swaying, before crossing the road and getting to the bus stop near Haworth Street.

The last CCTV footage of her was confirmed at 12.05am in Haworth Street getting into a parked vehicle, with police desperate to find the car owner. The painstaking process saw specialist officers track the vehicle through the streets of Hull before they were able to get a clear identification on its make and registration, leading them to its registered keeper- Pawel Relowicz.

Libby Squire and Pawel Relowicz together on Beverley Road in Hull.

Officers pieced together separate CCTV footage of Libby and Relowicz. He was seen walking along Beverley Road shortly after 11.55pm on January 31, before intercepting Libby on the opposite side, just after midnight.

He was then seen returning to his vehicle, where he sat in the driver's seat with the door open and his feet on the floor, before waiting a few moments for a silver Renault Scenic car parked near by to leave the street.

He then got out of his car and is seen with Libby again on Beverley Road, before they both got into his vehicle.

CCTV tracked his car travelling the short journey to Oak Road playing fields. It arrived there at 12.11am and left at 12.19am.

Relowicz and Libby getting into his car in Haworth Street, Hull.

The vehicle - and only Relowicz - was seen returning to his home in Raglan Street.

Relowicz was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping Miss Squire on February 6. His house was searched and vehicle seized.

He denied knowing anything about the whereabouts of Miss Squire.

In an interview on February 7, 2019, Relowicz told officers he had offered to give Libby a lift home, but had to stop his car at Oak Road as she started to retch. He said he got out of the car to urinate near by and Miss Squire had walked off "normally" onto Beresford Avenue.

Libby Squire sat in Pawel Relowicz's car.

Meanwhile, the search for Libby centred on the Oak Road playing fields, where officers suspected she had been taken to. It went on for a considerable amount of time with experts from many organisations involved. Underwater rescue teams searched the river, the foliage and shrubbery was all cut down and drone footage of the area was examined. These teams worked 17 hour days methodically ensuring nothing was missed.

Witness accounts were also collected with three people reporting screams coming from the Oak Road playing field at the same time CCTV footage showed Libby and Relowicz were there.

River and tide experts were also called upon as police wanted to know that if Libby had entered the water, then where could she have floated to.

Further investigations by detectives and uncovered sex toys and women's underwear in a pink holdall in the boot of Relowicz's car.

Relowicz's wife - the mother of his two children - also helped officers with the investigation. He had told her he had been out that night for a run.

CCTV footage captured him masturbating in the street just hours after returning home from his encounter with Miss Squire.

University of Hull student Libby Squire.

DNA samples and finger prints taken from Relowicz which were a positive match to a number of offences relating to voyeurism and outraging public decency reported to police between June 2017 and December 2018.

He was arrested in connection with seven of these offences on February 10, and remanded in custody, before being charged on March 5, with a total of 13 offences - some of which had taken place in January 2019 - days before his encounter with Miss Squire.

The force's professional standards team were also called in to investigate if they did everything they could and should have when it came to investigating Relowicz's previous offences. It was revealed there was no established evidence at the time linking Relowicz to the crimes. He had never been arrested before and therefore no DNA on or fingerprints on the police database.

He appeared before court on March 13, 2019, and denied the offences, with a trial date set for August 2019.

Relowicz remained in custody while detectives continued their investigations.

On March 20, 2019, a body was recovered from the Humber estuary and identified as Libby.

A post mortem was carried out the following day but remained inconclusive.

On August 12, 2019, the first day of his trial at Sheffield Crown Court, Relowicz pleaded guilty to nine of the 13 charges against him , including voyeurism and outraging public decency. He was sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in prison.

The results of further tests on Miss Squire's body failed to determine her cause of death, but ruled out natural causes. Pathologist also said she could have died from asphyxiation or drowning, but could not be certain.

A swab taken from Libby detected sperm cells that matched the DNA of Relowicz, which conflicted his account that he had only given the student a lift home and left her in Oak Road.

On October 24, 2019, following a charging decision by the Crown Prosecution Service, he was charged with the rape and murder of Miss Squire.

He appeared in court on October 30, and pleaded not guilty to both offences.

His trial was originally due to take place in June 2020, but was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The trial started on January 12, 2021 at Sheffield Crown Court and lasted 14 days.

Today, February 11, after 27 hours and 55 minutes the jury found Pawel Relowicz guilty of rape and murder.

Police say they are thankful they found him when they did and that he remains behind bars. Detectives are confident they are aware of all of his offending.

It has been an emotional journey, not just for everyone at Humberside Police, but for everyone associated with Libby and hopefully some sort of justice will be served.

Det Supt Smalley said: “I would firstly like to wholeheartedly commend Libby’s family for their incredible strength throughout the entire investigation and trial. I can’t comprehend how they must have felt over these past two years.

"I also want to thank all of my colleagues at Humberside Police, our partner agencies and the public who pulled together in their efforts to find Libby and who have supported our investigation from the outset.

"This has been one of the most challenging and emotional cases I’ve led on in my 30 year career as a detective, and I know everyone has felt as deep a personal connection to Libby as I have.

Relowicz will be sentenced on tomorrow.

Pawel Relowicz captured on CCTV in Newland Avenue, Hull, hours after his encounter with Libby Squire.