The Suzy Lamplugh Puzzle Part Two

What Happened to Suzy Lamplugh?

British estate agent reported missing 28th July 1986

Susannah Lamplugh was 25-years-old when she disappeared after leaving the estate agent office where she worked in Fulham, West London.

Here I am delighted to publish the work of a guest blogger, who has asked to remain anonymous.

The writer has studied the disappearance of Suzy Lamplugh for some two and a half years now and is pretty knowledgeable in the case. Please read and enjoy.

Article by: Anonymous Writer 07/02/2021:

SUSANNAH J LAMPLUGH — BEFORE SHE WENT MISSING

Few Lamplugh commentators and bloggers seem to pay much attention to the period BEFORE and AFTER Susannah went missing. There is so much out there that seems to be based on conjecture and the great press/media attention, at the time and since means, a narrative around Suzy’s disappearance seems to have grown up and taken on a life of its own. Nothing exists in a vacuum and people will inevitably come up with plausible theories to fill it. It’s worth noting that various writers and commentators over the last 35 years have lifted things slightly inaccurately from the source material. Inevitably ‘facts’ do alter over time and this has perhaps further muddied the waters.

Was anything missed at the time? Was the focus of investigation around only Shorrolds and Stevenage Road a mistake?

Nothing to go on at the time

Civilian Review Team March 1987: praised excellent work of Johnstone and Barley but later, after they had left the Lamplugh Hammersmith offices, a key witness statement changed when the witness seemingly came up with new information (July 1987)

The problem was there was seemingly nothing to go on or follow up. A civilian review was carried out eight months after Suzy went missing and found no new lines of inquiry and praised the excellent work of Barley and Johnstone.

It’s worth noting here that there was a later, documented, change to a witness statement after the review team had left the Hammersmith Lamplugh office. Could it be that this was very important and got lost and buried as people began to inevitably retrofit John Cannan as the perpetrator?

The circumstantial evidence against Cannan certainly seems very compelling. Few seem to be aware of this new information that came to light around July 1987, possibly because it happened after the initial review had been completed. There were later reviews and 13 years later some members of the public were convinced they had seen John Cannan in the vicinity, after all, they’d been prompted after looking at visual prompts from the time, now there was a John Cannan dating video in the public domain etc.…Possibly, but how can recall be accurate after so many years? Inevitably, confirmation bias has most certainly come into play.

What factually happened before Susannah went missing? Andrew Stephen: The Suzy Lamplugh Story (1988) impartial, investigative account. An excellent source on events of July 1986

What do we know that factually happened to Susannah on Monday, July 28th 1986? What actually are the irrefutable facts? My objective here is not to prove any points as such but to set things out as they were to try to get more clarity on the case.

Stephen had the facts at his fingertips, benefit of thousands of witness statements and pieces of information in 1986

There seems to be little focus, report or explanation of the true events that actually happened in that office and leading up to that fateful day, could there be something there that’s been overlooked that may be important and significant?

What about the time before the re-investigation that brought forward witnesses that apparently saw John Cannan, 10–14 years before, outside Suzy’s office or using the Kipper alias allegedly to view other property in the area?

What about what was actually reported at the time in the office itself and before and afterwards? Surely any reinvestigation should start with that, in forensic detail, at least? Did it?

The source for the account below is Andrew Stephen’s excellent, factual and impartial account: The Suzy Lamplugh Story (1988).

Unlike other accounts this was based on the police investigation at the time (1986) and was also based on evidence gleaned from the research of the excellent investigative team back in 1986–8.

The evidence and facts provided by Stephen do stand up to scrutiny (I have double-checked sources carefully where I could, the granularity of the detail provided by him is truly impressive. it must have taken him many hours in pre-internet days when online records were not readily accessible, etc)

This book is out of print and difficult to get hold of which is a shame as there is NO confirmation bias within the text re- any perpetrator, no John Cannan, then in the frame, to cloud any thinking, For that reason it is even more important as a source of evidence

Stephen writes as he found, he ‘put the record straight’ (Brookner). His writing credentials were checked by those concerned and his former excellent, journalistic record (Sunday Times editor) spoke for itself. It was unfortunate the book came in for so much criticism at the time for an insensitive portrayal, he had access to a decade’s worth of personal letters and an empathetic and sensitive approach would so have been a given and priority for many. Salacious news ‘sells’ unfortunately and Stephen came in for a lot of criticism, particularly from those who hadn’t actually read the book and took things out of context he seemingly felt.

As a factual, clear sighted account in terms of bare facts/timeline etc, it does stand up to scrutiny in a way that possibly might even help solve this case.

Stephens’ research was sound and he was factually accurate on the timeline, her friends, witness statements etc. Might he have brought something up that warranted a second look? Might his evidence have flagged an important and overlooked point somehow? Isn’t it more important this key source is scoured for ’the facts’ given this case is still unsolved and those that knew her and had contact with her are possibly reviewed? What has happened to them in the last three decades? Can they help?

To quote Stephen in his own words, he states he was kindly put in touch with the two main detectives on the case but also: ‘sought out other police officers at all levels of the Metropolitan Police as and received considerable unofficial cooperation from them. The detectives had not only carefully talked to everyone connected with the tragedy but literally thousands of others too, and in effect, I was able to take advantage of their vast research and knowledge of the case. Before long, I knew a great deal about Susannah Lamplugh and her disappearance’

So, we can conclude the book is a good source and Stephen had the actual facts at his fingertips, crucially from the actual time period concerned: 1986, not a much later retrospective account where inevitably more errors creep in. To sum up, he knew what he was talking about.

Let’s report on what Suzy did and how events unfolded in late July 1986:

The weekend before Suzy went missing

This seems like it might be a very good place to begin any impartial recount and may provide us with a useful background which seems to be missing from readily available sources online. So what happened in the period leading up to the time Susannah went missing?

Thursday 24th July

Suzy’s boyfriend, Adam, returns from his Canary Island holiday, he’d been away a week.

Friday 25th July

Suzy’s chequebook, personal diary a postcard and possibly other items ‘go missing’ from her bag

They are later found on the front step of the Prince of Wales pub, Putney, by the acting landlord at closing time.

Suzy gets her hair cut and highlighted at a salon: Studio 213 on the Fulham Road paying 18:50GBP. She was off to a party on Saturday so that might have been one reason for her fitting in an appointment close to the weekend.

Interestingly, the last photo of her, taken at the 21st Birthday party, doesn’t seem to look as if her hair was VERY blonde, certainly not Platinum, light ash or peroxide blonde, it was seemingly a subtle lightening. It was thought it was a big mistake to show a photo of Suzy with ‘dark’ hair as this misled the public.

On Friday evening she met up with boyfriend Adam and they went together to Mossop’s Restaurant (next to the pub) and later on to Suzy’s local pub: The Prince of Wales, Putney. Adam said they had a pleasant evening together, but at some point, it is apparent a few things went missing from her bag.

As it turned out, the acting Landlord of the pub later found Suzy’s’ pocket diary, chequebook, postcard (and possibly one or two other items but NOT her purse) on this front step when locking up at pub closing time.

Interestingly Anita Brookner on the pre-release of the Stephen book, suggests that these belongings may have gone missing later on that weekend, possibly on Sunday night. Is this a mistake? Or is it, in fact, unclear exactly which day and time Suzy lost these personal possessions? Writing in 1988, on pre-release of the Stephen book Brookner states:

One frail line of inquiry remains. The night before she disappeared Suzy left her chequebook in a pub telling the publican she would pick it up the following evening’

Certainly Suzy seemed to be more preoccupied with their loss on the morning of Monday 28th July at work, Stephen notes…

Saturday 26th July

Suzy attends a party for her friend’s 21st Birthday near Dorking in Surrey. She’s at work at Sturgis and Sons in the morning, until lunchtime approximately, and later in the evening, about 5pm, is picked up by close friend Sarah, at Suzy’s flat in Disraeli Road, Putney.

She plans to stay the night with Sarah’s parents and seems to have really enjoyed herself at the party, “looking resplendent’ in a new dress. Her friend, celebrating her 21st, is from the same circle of friends and is also an estate agent. Adam is not with Suzy at the party.

Whilst at the party Suzy talks to friends about a large commission she’s due, about 3,000GBP and mentions that she’s going to buy a property in a joint deal with someone, her father later adds that Suzy was looking at property that seemed to be beyond her means (Documentary on line: The Man Who Killed Suzy Lamplugh)

Suzy’s two bedroomed flat is on the market for 73.950k and so far there have been two unsuccessful attempts to sell it.

Sunday 27th July 1986

Around 12 noon Suzy leaves Surrey with friend Sarah and they head to Worthing. Sussex for an afternoon’s windsurfing. Boyfriend, Adam, joins the group of friends that attended the party too. NB: he wasn’t at the 21st.

Suzy makes a plan to meet later with Adam in Putney IF both are back in London by 8pm, unfortunately, Adam is delayed and this doesn’t happen. Instead, Suzy goes to see her parents at home in East Sheen Avenue on Sunday evening

They are pleased to see her and she takes the opportunity to bring some dirty washing over. Suzy had previously given a generous gift of theatre tickets to her mother and father so they could celebrate her mother’s 50th Birthday, so she took that chance to hear about their recent theatre visit and generally catch up with her parent’s lives.

She had hoped to see her mother for lunch on the Wednesday for a 50th Birthday lunch but her agency apparently hadn’t granted her the time off. Stephen: ’she wanted to see her parents as it was her mother’s fiftieth birthday the following Wednesday, and she had already explained to Diana Lamplugh that she could not come to a birthday lunch that day because she would not be able to get the time off work. Sturgis were apparently strict about that sort of thing’.

Suzy apparently then goes straight home to Putney, where she later speaks to Adam to arrange meeting up at a party on Park Lane on the following Tuesday around 10:15pm (a mutual friend’s party).

Monday 28th July 1986

8:45am- 9:00am

It was just a regular morning for Suzy, she left for work and arrived at the Sturgis Fulham Road office at about 8:45am. Suzy arrived after the office junior and before her other four colleagues. Just before 9:00am she kindly made everyone tea, one of her colleagues remarked she seemed in a ‘particularly good mood’. She was a very popular member of her team and very good at her job.

9:00am — 12:40pm approx

Makes and receives calls, cancels her chequebook, speaks to the pub landlord to arrange to collect her things. 6pm diary clash

Makes Appointment for 6pm to collect her things from the pub, yet already has a 6pm appointment in her diary.

It is reported that on this Monday morning Suzy was “preoccupied” with her missing cheque book, missing diary and chequebook cancelling her cheques with the bank. Why ‘preoccupied’ now when she’d been so seemingly carefree about her missing things before? if she mentioned their loss to her mother on Sunday then the enquiry didn’t note it.

Suzy had spent Saturday night seemingly carefree at a party and windsurfing in Worthing for most of Sunday, if she had tried to retrace her steps at all after work on Saturday to try to find these missing items, it’s certainly not noted. This would seem the logical thing to do, perhaps she did and no one could help in the pub or restaurant and said nothing had been handed in?

Later Suzy arranged to pick up her things from the pub when she learned they were there, what was perhaps strange about this was that she apparently arranged to do this at 6pm. She already had a noted appointment in her diary at 6pm and, was, as Carter and the team have said, Suzy was always precise about appointments and on time for viewings. In fact, she characteristically arrived 5 minutes ahead of time such was her precision. Indeed this 6pm viewing appointment was never cancelled as her colleagues hoped that she might turn up for it. Unfortunately, she didn’t.

Evening appointments usually indicated serious buyers and so more of a chance of a successful deal and ultimately commission, Suzy was ambitious. [NB: 6pm appointment can be clearly seen in her office diary]

To clarify, the landlord at the pub had called Suzy’s bank previously, presumably to try to identify whom these items he’d found belonged to, the bank had, in turn, called her at work. She then called the pub back to make this arrangement to collect her missing belongings at 6pm.

In 1986 a pocket diary often had a lot of personal information, the sort that is now on an I-phone that needs a passcode. Might Suzy have wanted to get her diary for phone numbers or other personal data before the evening? That wouldn’t seem to be unreasonable.

Suzy’s’ manager was at a lunchtime meeting that day in Crocodile Tears wine bar across the road.

12.40pm. The last call ever knowingly made by Suzy was to the pub

It is noted that she was half sitting and half standing as if in a rush to leave the office. Was this another call to the pub? Not the first? Had the plan changed in any small way? This is unclear.

12:45pm — O/S — outside property: ‘Mr Kipper’ — 37 Shorrolds Road

So we have the now infamous ‘Mr Kipper’ appointment noted in her diary.

What’s really interesting is Stephen notes at the time that there was a thought that ‘Mr Kipper’ might NOT be a ‘real client’. There was NO appointment card filled out for him which was the usual procedure. Stephen wondered if she had “made up the name herself”. Possibly to get out of the office, where the environment could be strict at times with regard to time out (NB: her mother’s 50th lunch) and was often busy.

What’s possibly interesting is that John Cannan used alias names Peterson and Jessop, sober, middle class, professional type names that can be documented and proven. The ‘Putney Set’, the group of middle-class professionals and close friends of Suzy, named by Diana Lamplugh and others, had their own private nomenclature that was to use names not dissimilar to ‘Kipper’ as in-jokes.

They had a book where they signed in when they met and there were jokey references, their own rituals and traditions to some extent. Nicknames used by Susannah with friends included: Pratt, Biffo, etc. Really ‘Kipper’ type names don’t you think?

Detective Sergeant Carter, with so little to go on, decided to go to the press early on and the response was incredible. The police were quickly overwhelmed and after a time, (in the years after the Stephen book had been forgotten), there was only one suspect: ‘John Cannan’

Police’s “only” suspect — John Cannan

ALL that happened in the office that morning might have been pushed to one side. What if there was some ‘breadcrumb’ clue or something important that got irrecoverably lost? What happened if that ‘lost breadcrumb clue’ may have provided a lead? What if it cast an important perspective, if, for example, a witness later came up with seemingly new information or changed their story?

Lunch with her friend — Suzy had apparently, originally wanted to have lunch with this friend on Monday 28th July, the friend now reported. They ‘blamed themselves’ if only they had seen her as planned she’d still be alive?

Suzy and her friend had been out of touch for a few weeks and on calling her, Stephen reports, Suzy had ‘immediately suggested’ they had lunch together on Monday 28th July 1986. Unfortunately the nanny’s day off was Monday so scheduled for Tuesday.

This was seen as vitally important by the police as it meant the appointment with ‘Mr Kipper’ had NOT been made more than a few days earlier or Suzy would never have suggested seeing the friend on Monday for lunch.

This friend apparently had future plans with Suzy, their dream and the detailed objective was a joint venture: to go into a beauty/fitness business together where Suzy would get 10 per cent of the profits and the friend would back the business. [reference: Andrew Stephen, ’The Suzy Lamplugh Story] It seemed that this business plan would be getting the green light quite soon.

I will leave the account here as these are solid facts and the last known movements, thoughts and actions of Suzy on Monday 28th July. The later events and sightings are more difficult to unravel and can be attempted later.

However, FOUR IMPORTANT EVENTS that I feel should be clarified, which may or may not be relevant. These are not really in the public domain yet are referenced in the various documentaries and can be found in Stephen.

They are so important as these were noted by witnesses AT THE TIME, rather than more than ten years later when so much about John Cannan was in the public’s consciousness. How could the public not be influenced by a man who seemed to fit the bill so much?

SIGHTINGS OF SUZY AT THE TIME:

1. Barbara Whitfield (knew Suzy well) — 2:30pm-2:45pm approximately

Barbara was a colleague and friend of Suzy’s, she actually knew her personally and said “I am certain it was her”, she had seen Suzy driving away from Putney in her white Ford Fiesta, sitting next to a man, looking serious but not overly worried. There was a feeling her account was:

“Utterly crucial”, the first witness to report seeing Susannah who actually knew her, much less likely to be mistaken’

Barbara came forward officially with this information a week after Suzy went missing.

2. Taxi Driver near Stevenage Road at 2:45pm or later?

Not long after Suzy went missing a taxi driver recalled picking up a passenger around Finlay Street, near Stevenage Road who looked like the flautist James Galway: had a full beard and moustache.

The fare reported seeing a couple having a ‘right ruck’ on the street. He was never traced and never came forward. Who was this passenger? How did he fit? Did any of the other witnesses and suspects resemble this detailed description that the taxi driver gave? The fare was dropped off near McDonald’s and the bank in North End Road. This witness sighting can be found reported in the Press at the time as well as being documented by Stephen.

3. The married man from Bristol:

Suzy previously worked for a beauty salon called ‘Joan Price’s Face Place’ and in about 1984 and mentioned to a client that she had been seeing a possibly married man who spent time in London in the week and the client thought possibly Bristol at the weekends.

To quote from Stephen directly:

Susannah had mentioned having a relationship with a man whom the client thought might have been married. He lived in a luxurious flat in London, apparently, and cooked Susannah what she had said were splendid meals there. The client thought Susannah had told her the man went home at weekends to possibly, Bristol.

There were other mentions of married men who made phone calls etc at other times and it does feel, objectively, that things could have possibly got confused over time withnarratives inevitably blurred and lumped together, possibly, to fit a subconscious brief? We are fortunate Stephen’s account is factual and unbiased.

4. The BMW narrative and Harry Riglin Photofit

Because a 1970s BMW had seemingly been sighted at Shorrolds Road the police began to look for a BMW owner/driver with Bristol connections so it may be easy to see how this possibly evolved to fit the Cannan narrative over time.

In September 1986 John Cannan put down new roots in Bristol and didn’t have a car never mind a BMW. The Bristol narrative came about originally because of a witness statement recalling a 1984 memory. There may have been a credible later narrative but the fact remains this Bristol seed was originally planted because Suzy may or may not have had a married lover from Bristol in 1984, not 1986.

John Cannan owned a BMW ONLY in 1987 as far as evidence in records tell us. He had a hire purchase arrangement for only ONE BMW (1987).

So the question must be asked “Did the Shorrolds address with Mr Kipper point to a ‘real’ appointment”? IF it didn’t, as Stephen pondered at the time, then focusing on BMWs is irrelevant.

Riglin photofit — Riglin did seem to be less convinced about what he had seen as the time went on and he did make changes to his story. There is evidence he was an unreliable witness. He initially said he saw ‘a struggle’ outside 37 Shorrolds Road with a woman bundled into a van, then later this was seemingly rescinded. [Stephen: 1988]

So if Suzy did make up the appointment at 37 Shorrolds Road: ‘Mr Kipper’, if we take this narrative away, the events in the office that morning and the events before and after she went missing take on an EVEN GREATER significance and warrant much more careful investigation and analysis.

Indeed as Andrew Stephen noted at the time Barbara Whitfield’s evidence ‘made nonsense of much of the information gleaned from both Shorrolds Road and Stevenage Road and gave a new glimmer of hope for Susannah’. Was that ‘glimmer of hope’ lost because everyone retrofitted the story to John Cannan subconsciously and the focus was only on the immediate vicinity of Fulham Road? Barbara had seen Suzy driving away from Putney.

I remain open minded, but I am struck that so much of the above seems to have been overlooked, forgotten and confused.

The new witness information that came up in particular, as this was after the excellent civilian review was this overlooked or not fully investigated as a result?

I would recommend that anyone interested in this case reads Andrew Stephen: The Suzy Lamplugh Story (1988) to note the above for themselves. Since there has been some renewed interest in this cold case it’s been interesting to see the books now sell for about five times what I paid for the book two years ago. That’s a significant jump in price.

I hope that this case is eventually solved and the Lamplugh family can find peace.

A NOTE FROM LOLLY

I just want to say thank you to the guest writer for this article, I really appreciate her taking the time out to produce this work for us.

As many of you know I am of the firm belief that this case can still be solved and that the narrative from very early on in the investigation of Suzy Lamplugh’s disappearance is wrong.

I do not believe in the whole “Mr Kipper at 37 Shorrolds Road” and thus I do not believe that the character was ever a real person. Based on this I, therefore, do not buy that John Cannan had any connection to Suzy Lamplugh, her life, her disappearance or indeed any possible murder that may have been committed.

In closing for this fine article I just want to say that my research is not about seeing John Cannan released from prison, his getting parole and so on, this is merely about getting to the truth and ultimately seeing justice done for Suzy and her family.

I will be bringing more on this case and others in due course, so I will see you all very soon.

In the meantime, if you would like to discuss this matter further or talk about anything “True Crime” then please do get in touch, I love to hear from you.

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