The eve of the 36th birthday of Claudia Lawrence, the University of York chef who went missing almost a year ago, was marked today by a ‘Claudia Lawrence Awareness Day’, held in York City Centre.
The event took place in St Sampson’s Square and aimed to raise awareness of the continued absence of Miss Lawrence. About 400 balloons were released, all with tags asking for information on Claudia’s disappearance, whilst Claudia’s favourite band, ‘The Dunwells’ performed a free concert.
Peter Lawrence, Claudia’s father, stated that the event was “an awareness thing… it’s designed to let people know we’re still looking for Claudia.”
This comes after BBC’s Crimewatch last night staged an appeal for information regarding Claudia’s disappearance. The show received over 30 calls, whilst police investigating the disappearance reported a “potentially significant lead.”
The event also coincides with the release of new CCTV footage showing an unknown silver car whose driver is believed to be linked to Claudia’s disappearance.
Detective Superintendent Ray Galloway, who appeared on Crimewatch alongside Claudia’s father, appealed for the driver of the silver car – who is currently a murder suspect – to come forward so the police can eliminate him from their investigation.
The CCTV footage shows the car pulling into a lay-by in Melrosegate, York, on the 18 and 19 March 2009. Further footage shows Claudia walking to and from work on the 18th March – the day before her disappearance. Her route to work passed by the Melrosegate lay-by.
Claudia is believed to have left for work between 5am and 5.30am on the morning of the 19 March, but never arrived and hasn’t been seen since. The investigation into her disappearance was originally a missing person’s enquiry, but was upgraded to a murder investigation after one month.
Over the past year the investigation has focused on Claudia’s complex personal life. Detective Superintendent Galloway said his team had, “been as far as Cyprus and recently to southern Ireland and traced people that she either was a friend of or a partner of.”
Galloway appealed to anyone who may have information on Claudia’s disappearance, saying it was “highly frustrating” that, “people in Melrosegate [where Claudia is believed to have disappeared] were waiting for the police to come to them to ask for information” rather than coming to the police themselves.
The police are also seeking to identify a man in a hoodie – who can also be seen in the CCTV footage – who was seen arguing with a female they believe to be Claudia earlier in the day on the University of York campus.
Mr. Lawrence expressed his grief, stating that a year on from his daughter’s disappearance he continued to be “distraught”. He commented: “I only get by because of the massive support of family, friends and the church… we cope.”
The Crimewatch appeal can be viewed at www.bbc.co.uk/crimewatch.
Anyone with information relating to Claudia disappearance is urged to call North Yorkshire Police on 0845 6060247.