5 unanswered questions in Suzy Lamplugh murder mystery – from number plate clue to why police ‘ignored’ vital witness | The Sun

TIME is running out for the family of Suzy Lamplugh to get answers about her disappearance.

The prime suspect in her murder, suspected serial killer John Cannan, 68, is reportedly on his death bed, receiving end-of-life palliative care.

Estate agent Suzy, 25, headed out to show a house to a mysterious Mr Kipper in Fulham, west London in July 1986 and was never seen again. She was declared dead six years later.

Cannan was questioned about her disappearance in 1989 and arrested for the murder in 2000 – but in 2002 the CPS decided there wasn't enough evidence to charge him.

To date, police have been unable to find Suzy's body or convict a killer, resulting in Suzy’s parents Diana and Paul going to their graves without the answers they craved.

Her disappearance is one of the most famous unsolved crimes in the UK.


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Suzy's brother Richard, like the rest of her family, remain convinced that Cannan is the man behind her murder.

He told the Mirror: “I would like Cannan, if he does know, to tell us what happened to Suze. After all these years, I would like him to finally let us know what happened. It would mean a lot to the family.”

Here we look at the unanswered questions that haunt the case.

Who is the mysterious Mr Kipper?

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For decades police, family and friends have been baffled by the identity of Suzy's final appointment on July 28, a 'Mr Kipper' who was viewing a property in Shorrolds Road.

No one has ever come forward claiming they were the man she was showing a house to, leading many to believe it was Cannan.

Adding fuel to the theory is that the convicted killer was nicknamed 'Kipper' by residents at the bail hostel he was living in, due to his fondness for the fish, his habit of taking regular kips and his wearing of 1960s-style kipper ties.

However, these aren't the only theories about the bizarre mystery man. One sinister hypothesis notes that if you add DNA to the word kipper, you get kidnapper.

Some amateur sleuths reckon this demonstrates the sinister intentions of Suzy's killer all along, and that they always planned to hold her against her will.

Others have suggested kipper is rhyming slang for Jack the Ripper.

There is another theory that Mr Kipper didn't exist at all. In 2019, former Scotland Yard investigator David Videcette claimed it was invented by Suzy to cover her tracks so she could leave the office.

The former copper, who spent three years on the case, reckons Suzy never actually went to Sharrods Road, despite witnesses claiming to have spotted her with a man.

He told the Daily Telegraph: "It is my firm view that Suzy put the Mr Kipper entry in her diary because she had to nip out to meet somebody else and she wasn't supposed to leave the office unattended.

"I believe the answer to this mystery lies in another appointment that Suzy did keep, but that has never been explored."

Videcette's theory was strongly refused by Suzy's mum Diana, who insisted her daughter was extremely unlikely to go against the rules and regulations of her job.

Police at the time suspected Suzy had known Mr Kipper. She’d told her flatmate and her family that she’d been on a few dates with a man from Bristol, who had since pestered her with calls and sent her flowers.

Once, after he had taken Suzy motor-racing, she told her mum she was slightly scared of him and was going to break it off over lunch.

Soon after Suzy went missing, Cannan relocated from west London to Bristol and joined a dating agency, posing as a businessman.

Who is the man in final sighting?

The last known sighting of Suzy was her getting into a black BMW with a man carrying a bottle of champagne decorated with ribbons and balloons.

For Daphne Sargent, an ex of Cannan's, this was enough for her to fear that the convicted killer had got his hands on the estate agent.

"As soon as I heard about Suzy… I knew it was John," she said. "It had all the hallmarks – right down to the champagne."

She described the criminal as “smooth-talking, attractive, well-dressed and impossible to resist” before he turned violent in 1980.

She changed her name to escape him, saying she was frightened by “the murderous look in his eyes” when he attacked her in bed.

Despite Daphne's claims, Cannon remained stoical in his denial of the killing.

Did Cannan dump body in canal?

In 2020, The Sun revealed that an alleged witness had gone to police three times claiming to have seen Cannan dumping a suitcase in the Grand Union Canal, Brentford days after Suzy was reported missing.

The man said he spotted a man fitting the suspect's description with a large holdall on a trolley at around 5am – but the information was never passed on to the investigating team.

The witness, known only as Dave, recognised Cannan from newspaper stories and told a pal there “was a starey-ness about his eyes”.

The lorry driver was so convinced it was Cannan that he attended his subsequent 1989 trial at Exeter Crown Court for a different murder to see him in the flesh.

In the Sky documentary The Mystery of Suzy Lamplugh, former detective superintendent Jim Dickie, who led a re-investigation into the case, said someone in the Brentford police department "screwed up".

“There should be an officer’s information in the major incident room with the information he gave," he said. "And that should have been followed up."

By the time the tip was passed on, Dave had died of a heart attack. Dickie reckons had it been followed up at the time, it could have led to a body being recovered.

It also meant police never dredged the canal.

Cannan has got form for dumping bodies in water. He is serving a life sentence for the rape and murder of newlywed Shirley Banks. Her body was found in a stream in Somerset six months after she was abducted from a Bristol city centre car park in October 1987.

Number plate riddle

After Suzy's disappearance, Cannan abducted and killed Shirley and then attempted to abduct a female shop assistant at knifepoint in Leamington Spa.

He was arrested as he fled the scene. Police found Shirley's car in his garage with a new licence plate: SLP 386.

Jim Dickie previously said: “I would suggest that SLP are the initials of Suzy Lamplugh, with 86 standing for the year she disappeared."

Cannan had been discharged from a prison hostel just three days before Suzy's disappearance, after serving five years for rape.

He claimed he bought the car, a Mini, at an auction and that he didn't change the plates.

In 2000, a criminologist also revealed DNA evidence linked Suzy to a Ford Sierra Cannan once used with the false number plate SLP 386S.

Meanwhile Suzy's own white Ford Fiesta was found unlocked, her seat pushed back, handbrake off, and Suzy’s purse and straw hat still inside after she went missing.

The car was about a mile away from her appointment at Shorrolds Road.

Why did he make two burial site claims?

An ex-girlfriend and a former cellmate of Cannan both made claims he told them where he buried Suzy's body.

His former lover told cops that he had boasted about raping and then burying the estate agent's corpse at Norton Barracks in Worcestershire – but she retracted her statement shortly afterwards.

Police conducted a search of the site in December 2010 and later returned with specialist ground-penetrating radar equipment.

They returned to the site for the third time after a witness came forward claiming he remembered a mound of earth appearing around the time Suzy vanished. But nothing was found.

Police searched a second site after a former cellmate of Cannan claimed the killer told him he had buried Suzy under the patio of his mum's house in 2001.

In 2018 cops headed to the Sutton Coldfield property and dug up the garden.

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The search involved around 15 officers from The Metropolitan Police and West Midlands Police.

Once again the two-week dig proved fruitless, leaving Suzy's family disappointed.

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