Suspected killer of estate agent was ‘spotted hurling large suitcase into canal after she vanished’

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The suspected killer of estate agent Suzy Lamplugh was spotted hurling a large suitcase into a canal in west London three days after she vanished, a retired detective has revealed.

Ms Lamplugh, 25, disappeared 34 years ago, it is believed after going to meet a client who called himself ‘Mr Kipper’ in Fulham, south west London.  

Killer John Cannan, 66, is currently serving three life sentences at Full Sutton Prison in York after being convicted of murder, attempted kidnap and rape in 1988.

He has never been charged in connection with Ms Lamplugh’s murder, but is believed to have told a former girlfriend that he strangled her and buried her body in concrete.

Now former detective superintendent Jim Dickie, who was in charge of a re-investigation into the case, says he was told last year that Cannan was seen dumping a big trunk into the Grand Union Canal in Brentford. 

Killer John Cannan, above, 66, is currently serving three life sentences at Full Sutton Prison in York

He has never been charged in connection with the murder of Suzy Lamplugh (above)

Killer John Cannan (left), 66, is currently serving three life sentences at Full Sutton Prison in York but has never been charged in connection with the murder of Suzy Lamplugh (right)

Former detective superintendent Jim Dickie says he was told last year that Cannan was seen dumping a big trunk into the Grand Union Canal (pictured above) in Brentford, west London

Former detective superintendent Jim Dickie says he was told last year that Cannan was seen dumping a big trunk into the Grand Union Canal (pictured above) in Brentford, west London

A lorry driver is said to have witnessed the scene while on his way to work at 5am, three days after Ms Lamplugh vanished.

Cannan was alleged to be seen with the suitcase on a trolley, and ran away after a splashing sound was heard.

Mr Dickie told The Sun: ‘I believe the canal sighting is the best piece of information to have emerged about Suzy’s potential whereabouts since she went missing more than 34 years ago.’

Cannan was jailed for life with a minimum of 35 years in April 1989 for the rape and murder of Shirley Banks, 29, in Bristol. 

The former detective drew similarities between the two cases, noting 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 added: ‘We think that after leaving the bail hostel, Cannan had a room somewhere where he took Suzy and murdered her before hiding the body.

‘There were warehouses around that area at the time where he could easily have got a trolley.’

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. 

Police activity in July last year on a roadside verge adjoining a field near Pershore, Worcestershire, in connection with the murder of the estate agent 34 years ago

Police activity in July last year on a roadside verge adjoining a field near Pershore, Worcestershire, in connection with the murder of the estate agent 34 years ago

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

Ms Lamplugh was officially declared dead, presumed murdered, in 1994 and her parents Paul and Diana both died without finding out what happened to their daughter.

The estate agent’s disappearance is one of the most puzzling cases of the 20th century.

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.

In August 2010, police began searching a field off the B4084 between Pershore and Drakes Broughton, about three miles from the former Norton Barracks in Worcestershire, where a search had previously been carried out in December 2000 and February 2001.

In December 2000, police had also searched a nearby brickworks, which had been mentioned in several of the original witness statements.

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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