Claudia Lawrence’s mum on endless anguish and dreams of her daughter

Claudia Lawrence’s mother discusses her disappearance in 2017

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Claudia Lawrence, who would have celebrated her 49th birthday on Monday, February 27, has been missing since March 2009. The 35-year-old chef’s disappearance and suspected murder shook the nation, with police spending more than £1million on investigations to no avail. But despite the torture of not knowing what happened, her loved ones have never given up hope on finding out what happened to their beloved daughter, sister, and friend.

Speaking to the BBC a decade after her daughter’s appearance, Claudia’s mother, Joan, revealed her endless anguish after the loss of her beloved child.

She said: “I dream about Claudia — we always talk about why she’s been missing and there’s always a different explanation.

“I like the dreams because in some sort of way, I’ve seen her; but it really shakes me for the rest of the day. It’s almost like I don’t want to return to reality, I just want to stay in the dream with her.”

She added that she thinks of her daughter daily. When it’s snowing, she muses how Claudia did not like the cold, or when she sees tulips in the supermarket, she is reminded that they were her daughter’s favourite flowers.

Joan continued: “You have to keep going. If I stay in bed all day looking at four walls, what good will that do? I will not give up [hope]. One day I will find out what happened to my daughter

Before her disappearance, Claudia had forged a name for herself as a promising young chef. After studying catering, she began working in kitchens in her early twenties, before landing a job at the University of York, Yorkshire, where she was a “well-liked” employee.

She was last seen on March 18, 2009, on CCTV, walking home from work to her small terraced house in Heworth near York before she chatting with her parents, Peter and Joan (who later divorced), on the phone.

Her mother said she sounded “absolutely fine” and that they had talked about the Channel 4 TV show Location, Location, Location.

The following day she did not turn up to work and did not answer her phone when her boss called. That evening, on March 19, she also did not turn up to her local pub, the Nag’s Head, to meet Suzy Cooper, a close friend with whom she would often meet to chat and enjoy a cider.

Suzy tried calling Claudia but the call went straight to voicemail and she assumed her friend was asleep with her phone out of charge. But when her call went through to voicemail again the following morning, she knew something was wrong.

When Suzy and her father went to her house, unnervingly, everything seemed normal. Her phone and bag containing her chef’s whites were missing, indicating she had gone to work. But she had not turned up at her 6am shift. Her bank cards, purse, and passport were all still in her house.

When he learned Claudia had not turned up to work the previous day too, Peter called the police and described how suddenly some 200 North Yorkshire Police officers were in leafy Heworth searching her route to work.

Claudia did not use social media, nor have a computer in her house, she frequently texted, sending a message at 20:27 on March 18 but not responding to one that came in at 21:12. Her phone was then deliberately turned off at 12:10 the next day while in an eight-mile radius of York.

Detective Chief Inspector Lucy Pope told reporters that it was thought Claudia had been abducted and the case was then handed to one of North Yorkshire’s most senior officers. When Claudia had been missing for six weeks, the case became a murder investigation.

Joan was, however, critical of the police investigation, raising issues such as the fact that officers used a missing picture of her daughter with the wrong, lighter hair colour.

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Later, Claudia’s love life was dragged into the spotlight. Former Det Supt Ray Galloway, who led the investigation, appeared on the BBC show Crimewatch, telling investigators that Claudia had a “complicated and mysterious private life that her family and friends were not aware of”, which some believe turned the public against her.

It was alleged that she had a “number of covert sexual relationships with men, some of whom were married or had girlfriends” with there being “gaps in her relationship chart”. Claudia was dubbed a “scarlet woman” and “home-wrecker” by the press.

In 2010, the investigation was scaled down and by 2017, it had moved to the “reactive” phase. Over the years, several arrests have been made but all have been released without charge. Police have concluded that those with information, with the truth, need to come forward.

Det Supt Dai Malyn, who led the review last year, said in a statement: “I am left with the inescapable conclusion that this case could still be solved if only people were honest with us. The fact that they are not is agonising for Claudia’s family and they should be ashamed of themselves.”

Claudia’s father fought for the Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act 2017, also known as Claudia’s law, which allows relatives to take control of their missing loved ones’ financial matters. Sadly, the 74-year-old died last year, never knowing what happened to his daughter.

Joan told the Mirror last year that she now feels it is up to her to keep fighting for answers to find out exactly what happened to Claudia.

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