Claudia Lawrence: An Alternative Timeline
I was concerned that the police were focusing everyone on one date to the exclusion of all else, so I put together some alternative scenarios that still fit all the public information.
The police in the Claudia Lawrence missing persons case have been successful in focusing public attention on the Thursday when Claudia’s disappearance was reported to them. However, all of the evidence the police published leaves open the possibility that Claudia disappeared and came to harm the previous afternoon or evening.
I wanted to put together an alternative timeline. The purpose of this is not to suggest that this matches reality, but that the bare facts that have been released to the public, mainly from the police, can be interpreted in different ways. A Wednesday disappearance is just as likely as a Thursday one.
We know from the Stephen Downing miscarriage of justice and the way the White House Farm case was botched, that the police are under immense pressure to leap to conclusions. They are public servants and, much like those of us who work in the private sector, most of them just want to get home to watch Eastenders. What follows is a narrative reconstruction that fits all of the facts listed here on the police website.
Morning, 18th March 2009
Claudia leaves home for work. She grabs her Karrimor rucksack containing her chef whites, her hair straighteners, and a Samsung D900 mobile phone. She does not take bank cards but has small cash in a pocket just in case she needs it. She takes a letter with her. She arrives at works and carries out a normal shift. While at work, she borrows a stamp for the letter, intending to post it on the way home. Her walk takes her past a post office. She is walking because her own Vauxhall Corsa is in the garage and has been for a number of days.
Claudia starts her shift at 6am each morning, so she is finished work in time for a late lunch. She leaves work at 14:31 and is spotted on CCTV nearby. It is a sunny day, and she starts her walk home. She posts her letter in this post box near her house. The time is now 14:47 and Claudia is almost halfway home. She continues to her house, not stopping nearby at the Nag’s Head pub as she might have done on another day. Tonight she has other plans. She is not sleeping at home.
Afternoon, 18th March 2009
Claudia has a few hours to spare before her evening plans. She texts and chats to friends, and slowly gets ready for a night on the town. Her house is not covered by CCTV directly, although there is a camera to the west (left) of her house which would capture her if she walks past it. There is no footage of Claudia on this camera at all. Probably around 7pm Claudia leaves home. She is either collected by taxi, jumps on a bus, or is picked up by a friend. However she travels, Claudia is heading for Acomb. She has been drinking there for a number of weeks. There are at least two reasons for this: either she fell out with the Nag’s Head crowd or, more likely, she has a specific reason pulling her to Acomb.
Night, 18th March 2009
Claudia is out drinking with her male friend in Acomb. She texts sporadically throughout the evening, and sends a final text at around 20:30. She puts the phone in her handbag or pocket, still on, and focuses her attention on the evening before her. Claudia receives one final text at 21:12 but never reads it and never replies. She has all of her work stuff, including the Karrimor bag, in the man’s car, fully intending to spend the night at his house. The plan is that he will drop her at work around 6am the following morning.
The couple leave the pub together. This is the sliding doors moment.
Option 1: The male friend is the killer
Something happens at the man’s house. Perhaps it started as a disagreement in his car and escalated. Perhaps they have been arguing on and off for days. The male friend accidentally kills Claudia and finds somewhere in the local area to leave her body. As this was not a planned action, he is frantically covering things up. He throws the bag and its contents, including the D900 phone, into a river or other water the next afternoon. The phone dies immediately, at 12:10pm on 19th March. There is nothing else to connect this man with Claudia and he has never been traced. Only he knows where she is.
Option 2: The killer is at the university
The evening proceeds as planned, and the man passes an uneventful night with Claudia at his home. They have breakfast there, although it is only 5.30am on 19th March. He does not get ready for work as it is too early for him, but he is happy to give Claudia a lift. He drops her off on the outskirts of the campus, leaving her to walk the short paths to the kitchen where she works. He drives away, thinking nothing out of the ordinary is going to happen. Claudia is intercepted on the campus and abducted. Her killer turns off her phone at 12.10pm. Her Karrimor bag is seen on grass at the university around 1pm on 19th March but is never seen again. Claudia’s killer knew her and knew her routine, and was easily able to intercept her walk to work. He wants to know where she was last night. Why weren’t you with me? They fight. He retaliates and accidentally knocks her unconscious. None of this is captured on CCTV and if this really happened, why didn’t Claudia’s boyfriend from Acomb ever come forward, to rule himself out?
The purpose behind this is to demonstrate how easy it is to construct a narrative around the known facts that is 180 degrees different from what the police assumed. The initial investigation made so many mistakes and has been discredited by numerous people. The 2013 reopening was more successful but of course, years later, evidence has been lost. That evidence can never be retrieved.
I have no view on whether the reconstruction described in this article is more or less likely than the official one constructed by the police. They have always stated their belief that Claudia spent a quiet night alone in her house and left for work as normal on 19th March, but this is based on many assumptions. In creating the narrative above I have followed all the known facts on the police’s own website. So I have used only the facts as understood and accepted by the police, not by any conspiracy theorists online.