CLAUDIA Lawrence’s mum has revealed how Kate McCann helped her through the “dark days” as they cope with the agony of their missing daughters.
This week marks a decade since Claudia, a University of York chef, vanished at the age of 35.
Although no body has ever been found, North Yorkshire Police have been treating her disappearance as a suspected murder investigation.
Claudia’s mum Joan, who admitted to having suicidal thoughts following her daughter’s disappearance, said her friendship with Maddie’s mum had been a source of comfort.
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Speaking a decade since Claudia vanished, Joan told Bella Magazine: “Over the years, I began to get in touch with the mums of other missing children.
“I exchanged letters with Kate McCann and met up with Ben Needham’s mum Kerry.
“We drew strength from one another, offering words of encouragement and affection on particularly dark days – of which, there are many.”
CRITICAL OF POLICE
On the tenth anniversary of when Claudia was last seen, North Yorkshire Police said they are still waiting for information from the public to help them make a major breakthrough.
The case has been made more difficult as Claudia did not have a computer, did not use her phone to go online and was not on social media.
Five men held on suspicion of murder were released without charge.
Mrs Lawrence has been critical of the way the force handled the case in the months after her daughter’s disappearance.
She said: “There was no sensitivity and no tact, and I never felt I was her mum at all. They were very very unkind…desperately unkind.”
Mrs Lawrence continued: “The first team made a huge mistake because they never once asked me about Claudia.
“They never ask me about her interests, her friends, anything like that.
“I think they should have done, because this person (Claudia) was a stranger to them, and I thought they should get to know a little bit about her.”
She also claims North Yorkshire Police did not carry out forensic tests until “five or six weeks” after her daughter went missing.
She added: “With the frustration of the police at times, I thought of taking my own life. You feel like banging your head against a brick wall and you can’t get any answers, can’t get anyone to listen.”
The 75-year-old said she will “never give up hope” and had a “gut feeling” the ten year anniversary of Claudia’s disappearance will “trigger something off”.
‘VITAL INFORMATION BEING WITHHELD’
Detective Superintendent Dai Malyn said: “It remains the case that we strongly suspect key and vital information is being withheld that could provide the breakthrough that we all want to see, not least Claudia’s heartbroken family.
“Unless we get information or intelligence to suggest that Claudia came to harm as a result of an opportunity taken by someone unconnected to her, me and the team still strongly believe the answer lies locally.
“As with some recent cold case successes, the breakthrough has come from the public and we still have confidence that this will be the case.”
LACK OF CCTV AROUND HER HOME
Following Miss Lawrence’s disappearance, searches were initially focused on the route between her home on Heworth Road and the University of York.
Hundreds of officers across various forces were initially involved in one of the country’s biggest murder inquiries but the investigation, that has cost more than £1.5m, has been scaled back over the years.
Mr Malyn said the investigation has so far been hindered by a lack of CCTV around Miss Lawrence’s home, as well as the fact that she had neither a smart phone or a social media profile when she vanished.
“We know also that her mobile phone didn’t leave the area before it left the phone network,” he added
“This again is a reason I don’t believe she fell victim to an attack by a stranger.
“Also, we have no actual scene where something untoward may have happened to her despite fresh forensic assessments of her house, car and other locations.”
The force explained how members of the public are still coming forward with information.
Despite being “well intentioned”, much of this is based on speculation or theory, Det Supt Malyn said.
“The call we really want is the one that helps piece together the parts of the jigsaw we already know regarding her last movements and people she associated with and places frequented,” he added.
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Last week Claudia’s dad Peter, 72, said it was getting harder to believe his daughter was still alive a decade after she disappeared.
He said the last ten years had been “horrible”.
Mr Lawrence, from York, said: “It’s very difficult. It just keeps going on and on, of course, because of not knowing what happened and it is the not knowing which has always been the worst part about it.
“Sometimes it seems an eternity and other times it just seems as though it wasn’t very long ago at all.”
Claudia’s best friend Suzy Cooper, 54, added: “In this day and age I find it really hard to believe that someone can go missing for 10 years with not one clue. Not one piece of evidence. Nothing. How is that even possible now?”
Joan Lawrence, 75, was critical of North Yorkshire Police’s handling of the case[/caption]
Claudia’s father Peter admits it’s getting harder to believe she’s alive after 10 years[/caption]
TEN YEARS SINCE CLAUDIA'S DISAPPEARANCE
March 18 – Miss Lawrence speaks with her parents over the phone and, at 8.23pm, sends her friend a text. She has not been seen or heard from since.
March 19 – Miss Lawrence’s father, Peter, contacts North Yorkshire Police after his daughter fails to keep an arrangement to meet a friend at the Nags Head pub. She also fails to attend work.
March 23 – Mr Lawrence describes his daughter’s disappearance as a “living nightmare” during a news conference in York.
April 24 – Detectives say that Miss Lawrence’s disappearance is being treated as a suspected murder investigation. A £10,000 reward is offered for information that could lead to the conviction of those responsible.
May 6 – Mr Lawrence calls for an urgent independent inquiry into the police investigation of his daughter’s disappearance and suspected murder.
July 29 – Police confirm they are reducing the number of officers dedicated to the inquiry into Miss Lawrence’s disappearance.
October 29 – A new forensic search of Miss Lawrence’s home is announced as police launch a fresh review of the case.
March 19 – Five years on from Miss Lawrence’s disappearance, officers discover at her home the fingerprints of people who have still not come forward to the investigation.
May 13 – A 59-year-old man is arrested on suspicion of murder. He is released on police bail and eventually released without charge on November 17 2014.
March 23 – A man in his 50s is arrested on suspicion of murdering Miss Lawrence and is released on police bail the following day.
April 22 – Three more men, all in their 50s and from the York area, are arrested on suspicion of murder and are released on bail.
September 17 – A file of evidence on four men arrested on suspicion of murder is sent by North Yorkshire Police to the Crown Prosecution service (CPS) so it can consider whether to bring charges.
March 8 – Police say the CPS has decided the four men will not face charges.
January 17 – Mr Lawrence says he is “hugely depressed and disappointed” as the investigation into his daughter’s disappearance is scaled down.
March – Nearly a decade on from her disappearance, Miss Lawrence has still not been found. Her father says “it’s very difficult” to conceive of her still being alive.
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