Claudia: New Evidence – 1
by CHRIS CLARK & TIM HICKS
Claudia Lawrence (pictured above, left), aged thirty-five, was a chef at the University of York’s Goodricke College. She was due to walk three miles to work on Thursday 19th March 2009 for a shift beginning at 6:00am, but did not turn up for work. She was reported missing the next day and North Yorkshire Police (NYP) designated her disappearance as a “no body” murder shortly afterwards.
Despite a massive investigation by North Yorkshire Police, (NYP), Claudia’s body has never been found and her murderer has not been arrested.
The authors believe that the NYP investigations into her murder ere bungled and covered this in a series of articles below:
- Post Mortem on Operation Cabin Part 1
- Post Mortem on Operation Cabin Part 2
- Post Mortem on Operation Essence Part 1
In 2016, Detective Superintendent Stephen Fulcher, who arrested Halliwell after a most skilful investigation, stated that he believed Halliwell may be responsible for Claudia’s murder.
Retired Norfolk Police Intelligence Officer Chris Clark has asserted that serial killer Christopher John Halliwell was a very strong suspect for Claudia’s murder. Her abduction and murder fitted with Halliwell’s modus operandi, Halliwell’s whereabouts at the time of her disappearance were unknown and there have been sightings of him in Yorkshire.
There is a wider issue beyond the murder of Claudia Lawrence, which is that Halliwell’s modus operandi fits a number of murders in Yorkshire.
Please see this Table – The Yorkshire Clusters
In these articles, the authors examine Halliwell’s links to North and South Yorkshire. The murder of Lindsay Jo Rimer in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire in 1994 forms a separate sub-cluster and is not covered.
Halliwell’s Yorkshire Cluster
Halliwell lived an itinerant lifestyle. He moved from Scotland back to Swindon and was convicted there for car theft and a series of burglaries in 1985, spending three years at HMP Dartmoor between 1985 and 1987. Thereafter:
- Halliwell worked as a builder, groundsman, window fitter, gravedigger, bin man, minicab driver and window cleaner all over the country.
- Halliwell was a keen fisherman and narrow boater and these interests also gave him a reason to travel nationally.
- Halliwell’s father Alan Keith Halliwell previously served in the RAF at Swindon and other locations. He was originally from Huddersfield and died in 1992 in Huddersfield.
- Halliwell routinely used prostitutes and could have visited red light districts all over the country in pursuit of this activity.
- Halliwell may have had connections to York, Oswaldkirke and Ampleforth in North Yorkshire.
- Halliwell was attracted to water features and areas of outstanding natural beauty.
- Halliwell enjoyed driving and was comfortable living out of his car.
York and North Yorkshire would be very attractive to Halliwell. York is conveniently situated for the red light districts at Middlesbrough and Sheffield; it is close to the North York Moors. There are opportunities for narrow-boating and fishing, including sea-fishing at Whitby and Scarborough and along the North Sea Coast. The NYE has had a sighting report of him in Scarborough and this may be because he was fishing there.
Halliwell was finally arrested by Wiltshire Police in Swindon on the 24th of March 2022, following the murder of Sian O’Callaghan in Swindon on or about the 19th of March 2011. The NYE has become aware of a number of sightings of Halliwell and attacks by him in Yorkshire in the period 2009 until 2011.
The details are as follows:
The NYE has been contacted by another victim of Christopher Halliwell, who he tried to abduct in York about two weeks before Claudia Lawrence was abducted and murdered. The authors have designated her as Victim 1, to preserve her anonymity, at her own request.
This attack is referred to as abduction, because that is the offence Halliwell would have been charged with. The authors have no doubt that Halliwell intended to murder Victim 1 and that this was in fact an attempted murder.
Victim 1’s story is told below in her own words:
“I was working a 12-hour shift in the Nestle factory in York. I finished my shift early and left work from the main entrance on Haxby Road, York between 06.30 am and 06.45 am and started to walk home along Haxby Road. There were a lot of women normally leaving the factory around that time to walk home on their own.
It was cold and dark, and because I left a little early there was no one else around walking in the direction that I was. I walked over the bridge next to Nestle, as I got over the brow of the bridge; I saw an old-style red Rover 25 parked in the bus stop with its lights out. The car did not have taxi sign or a minicab sticker on the side. I was able to identify it as a Rover 25 because at that time my neighbour had the same type Rover but in a different colour.
I thought the car being parked in a bus stop was very suspicious, because I know you are not allowed to park in bus stops and if he was waiting to give someone a lift from the factory, he would have parked near the entrance, which was covered by CCTV.
I noticed that there was only one man in the car and he was sat in the driver’s seat. He had piercing eyes and was staring at me transfixed. I noticed his head was turning slowly as he watched me as I walked. I don’t normally frighten easily, but I was terrified and so pulled out my ‘phone and pretended to be in a telephone conversation. As I walked past the Red Rover the man leaned in a lunging manner very quickly from the driver’s seat across the passenger seat. I realised that I was being stalked and was in danger. I was frightened so I ran away from the car as fast as I could.
[Please see Hi-Res Haxby Road Abduction Map, here – Lo-Res Map below]
As soon as I did, I looked behind me as I heard a car engine start up, I saw that the man in the Rover had started up his car and was quickly driving off, without switching his lights on. Again, I thought this was suspicious. I was frightened he may turn around and come back after me, so I ran home as fast as I could; thankfully I lived very close by.
When I got home, I rang my mum straight away and told her what had happened. I also reported this incident to the police by telephone. The control room said someone from CID would be in touch, but no one contacted me. I then got a friend to talk with a policeman she knew and a detective called and took a statement at my home. This was about six weeks after the incident and three or four weeks after the disappearance of Claudia Lawrence.
I described the man in the car as smartly dressed in a checkered shirt, piercing eyes, a receding hairline, a roundish face, big ears and of a slim build. His head was not slumped down over the steering wheel or touching the ceiling, so he was neither short nor tall. I would estimate his height at roughly 5 foot 10 inches. The detective thanked me for my help and I heard no more.
Sometime later I saw Christopher Halliwell’s photograph on the television, I recognised him straight away and rang my mum. I told her that Halliwell was the man I saw outside the Nestle factory who had tried to abduct me.”
In 2016 I became aware that Becky Godden-Edwards’ mother Karen had started a petition to get changes to police procedures. So, I contacted the police again and told them I believed that Christopher Halliwell was the man who had tried to abduct me in 2009. A Detective called at my house to interview me. He introduced himself and gave me his name. He had my original statement from 2009 with him and we went through it. I found him to be abrupt, disbelieving and dismissive. He questioned me about what contact I had had with Karen Godden-Edwards. He asked me if I was 100% sure it was Halliwell in the car. I said you can never be 100% sure, but I am 99.9% sure. I asked him was he 100% sure that Halliwell had not been in York at the time and he said that he could not be certain, but the police had established that he did not own a red Rover at the time of the incident. He also asked me how could I be sure then that it was Halliwell, I said because I have a good memory. He then said OK, an hour ago I introduced myself to you and told you, my name. What was it? I told him his name and he said “you have got a good memory haven’t you” then he left.
I have not been contacted by the police since that time in 2016 and so far as I know, Halliwell has not been interviewed in connection with the incident outside the Nestle factory in February/March 2009 that I was involved in.
I decided to speak out now because I think it’s appalling that poor Claudia’s disappearance has never been resolved and poor Joan (her Mum) has had no closure. I contacted the NYE because it has covered the case very well and I know it will publish my account in full.
I am prepared to take part in an identity parade or to speak to Halliwell in prison to try and obtain some sort of resolution. I hope that by speaking out, I will help obtain some resolution for Joan.”
One of the authors also interviewed York Victim 1’s mother, who was formerly a cab-driver. She confirmed that both telephone conversations referred to above had occurred:
“In 2009 my daughter rang me very early in the morning having just got off her late shift at the Nestle factory. She told me she had run home panicking because she had been watched by a man in a car when she was walking home. She said he had really piercing eyes and wouldn’t take his eyes off her. It unnerved her so much that she had got her mobile phone out and pretended to be talking on it. Just as she passed his car (which she said was a red Rover like her neighbours) he had lunged towards the passenger door so she ran as fast as she could.
I reassured her that he would not have had time to drive over the bridge and turn his car around in time to see where she lived. I praised her for her quick-thinking re- pretending to talk on her mobile phone, then I told her she should call the police.
At a later date, my daughter rang me again when Christopher Halliwell’s photograph was shown on the news and said that it was the man who stalked her, she said:
“That’s him, I can’t forget those piercing eyes, same ears, same receding hairline”
I know from my time as a cab driver that once you have filled up with fuel to go home, you could still be asked to drive anywhere. I once ended up in Newcastle.
I feel very sorry for Joan Lawrence and Claudia’s family and friends who have not had any closure. I hope that contacting the NYE will result in some movement on the case.”
Having interviewed both ladies, the authors have no doubt that Victim 1 was the subject of an attempted abduction and murder by Christopher Halliwell, in Haxby Road, York, two weeks before the murder of Claudia Lawrence.
Halliwell selected small, petite women as his victims because they were easier to dominate and overcome. However, Halliwell was abused as a child by his mother Sonia, who – understandably – he hated. If he saw a woman that reminded him of her he would be incandescent with fury and hatred. Halliwell’s victim preference may have been for women who looked like his mother and reminded him of her. Sian O’Callaghan had a likeness to Halliwell’s mother. Claudia Lawrence and Victim 1 have similar jaw lines to Sian and therefore may also have resembled Sonia.
Victim 1 has given an accurate description of Halliwell. The only inconsistency is her description of a round face (Halliwell’s face was long, rather than round). This is understandable given that she was looking in to a darkened car through glass that was illuminated by street lights, his head was tilted and she was terrified. Halliwell is seen in the lead photograph taken in 2011 wearing a horizontal striped pattern shirt similar to a check pattern shirt. Other witnesses have described his piercing eyes.
Waiting in an area in the hours of darkness for an unaccompanied woman is similar to the technique he used to abduct and murder Sian O’Callaghan. Sian was walking home alone in the early hours of the morning from a nightclub and Halliwell was cruising through Swindon’s nightclub area in his car looking for an unaccompanied woman to abduct. Victim 1 believes Halliwell targeted the Nestlé factory at that time because unaccompanied women would leave it to walk alone when the shift finished. Halliwell was surveillance aware, so the authors believe he did not cruise around by the entrance because it would have resulted in him being noticed by the security men and picked up on CCTV. Parking up a bit further on would allow him to select and abduct a victim without coming to the attention of anyone.
North Yorkshire Police (NYP) seems to have disregarded this witness’s evidence because it established that Halliwell did not have a red Rover registered to him at the time. This is not enough to eliminate him. He had other sources of cars easily available to him:
- Halliwell had served three years in prison for car theft and could have stolen a car to use in the abduction.
- Halliwell was working as a minicab driver. He could have borrowed a car from one of his workmates. The car could have belonged to a cab firm that he was doing a chauffeur job for.
- Halliwell had a chauffeur business until January 2010, when it went bankrupt. He may still have had access to cars registered to the business in March 2011.
- Halliwell could have borrowed a car from one of his friends or a neighbour. There was a red rover parked in his street in June 2009, but the authors have eliminated this.
The conclusion is inescapable that this crime was not properly investigated. It nevertheless establishes that Christopher Halliwell attempted to murder a woman who resembled Claudia in York about two weeks before Claudia Lawrence disappeared.
[Maps by FAD]
Coming next: “Claudia: New evidence 2”
Right of Reply
If you are mentioned in this article and do not agree with the views expressed in it, or if you wish to correct any factual inaccuracy, please let me know using the email@example.com email address and your views and a correction will be published if appropriate.
NYE Appeal for Information
Whenever the authors run an article on a cold case, the NYE always runs an appeal for information, to try to keep the case in the public eye and generate information.
Christopher Halliwell had a slim athletic build and spoke with a slight Swindon accent. He is pictured in the lead illustration in 2011, two years after the murder of Claudia Lawrence. You can see and hear him in the video here.
Did he offer you a lift in his minicab?
Did you know of Christopher Halliwell’s Father Alan Keith Halliwell who is believed to have lived in Huddersfield, York, Ampleforth and/or Oswaldkirk and who previously served in the RAF at Swindon and other locations?
Did you see Christopher Halliwell staying in a bed and breakfast or hotel along the A19, in Darlington, Middlesbrough, Scarborough, York or the North York Moors area?
Did you see Christopher Halliwell:
- Fishing at Scarborough?
- Fishing at Whitby?
- Fishing at Scaling Dam?
- Fishing at Sand Hutton Gravel Pits?
- Fishing at York University Lake?
- In York?
- At Ampleforth?
- At Oswaldkirk?
- At the Kilburn White Horse?
- At the Nag’s Head or the Acomb Hotel in York?
- In Middlesbrough?
- Fishing at Scaling Dam?
- Fishing along the River Tees?
- Fishing at Scarborough?
- Fishing at Whitby?
- Fishing or narrow boating in Sheffield?
- On the North York Moors?
- In Darlington?
- At Llangollen, North Wales?
Any information would considerably assist our knowledge of Halliwell’s movements. So please contact the NYE in complete confidence using our e mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org if you think you can help.