Police searching for teenage mum who went missing 22 years ago scour country park

Nicola Payne who disappeared on December 14, 1991
Nicola Payne who disappeared on December 14, 1991
Nicola Payne who disappeared on December 14, 1991
Nicola Payne who disappeared on December 14, 1991

Police and sniffer dogs specially trained to hunt for dead bodies were today searching a popular country park for a missing teenage mum who went missing 22 years ago.

Officers from West Midlands Police cordoned off a wooded area of Coombe Abbey Country Park in Binley, near Coventry, just after 8am.

If is the second time search teams have combed an area of the park and nature reserve in less than a month as officers continue to search for 18-year-old Nicola Payne.

Nicola was last seen on December 14, 1991, while walking to her parents’ home in Coventry.

Police said the decision to search Coombe Abbey Country Park came after new information came to light.

A force spokesman said: “Police cordoned off the site at 8am this morning and the initial phase will involve assessment of the area, ground search and identification of areas of interest.

“The police search teams will be supported by Forensic Scene examiners and Cadaver dogs.

“In addition a number of scientists from various disciplines will support the search as it progresses. The search is expected to last up to three days.

“Nicola’s family are aware of the developments and are being supported by Family Liaison Officers.”

Three men and two women, who have been arrested in connection with the investigation, remain on police bail while enquiries are ongoing.

Nicola's parents Marilyn and John Payne from Walsgrave, Coventry
Nicola’s parents Marilyn and John Payne from Walsgrave, Coventry

Detective Inspector Martin Slevin, who is leading the investigation, said: “The investigation into the disappearance of Nicola Payne continues to attract new information and intelligence.

“Officers remain determined to discover what happened to Nicola when she went missing in 14 December 1991 and to bring offenders to justice and bring closure to Nicola’s family.

“The search over the next few days is as a result of the analysis of information received during the course of the investigation.”

“Specially trained Police search officers will lead the search supported by forensic scene examiners and Cadaver dogs.

“They will be supported by scientists from various disciplines, who will be on site during the next few days.

“As this investigation has progressed we have received new information and intelligence.
I would urge anybody who has any information, no matter how small or insignificant they may feel it is, to contact the incident room at Willenhall Police station or in confidence via Crimestoppers.

“There is still a £10,000 reward available for information that leads to the discovery of
Nicola’s whereabouts.”

December 14, 1991: Nicola disappeared on her way to her parents’ house after taking a short cut over waste ground.

She had left her seven-month-old son Owen with her boyfriend Jason Cooke at his home in Winston Avenue, Henley Green.

April 1996: Police excavate the garden of a property in Woodway Lane, acting on a tip-off, but after 12 hours of searching nothing is found.

June 2001: Part of the Oxford Canal, in Ansty, is dredged after a witness comes forward with fresh information, but nothing is found.

September 2001: Bones are found near to where Nicola disappeared but turn out to be animal remains.

2005: A new poster campaign is launched round the country to bring the case back into the public eye.

2006: Nicola’s picture appears on T-shirts printed by the National Missing Persons Helpline.

March 2007: It is announced that the case is to be re-examined. The Major Investigation Unit based at Chace Avenue police station takes on the investigation after potential lines of inquiry were identified. Parents John and Marilyn re-appeal for those with information to come forward. A statement is also read on TV on behalf of Nicola’s son Owen, who is by now 16.

November 1, 2007: Police arrest a 37-year old man from Derbyshire on suspicion of the abduction and murder of Nicola. He is brought back to Chace Avenue police station for questioning and is released on bail pending further inquiries.

March 2008: The 37-year-old man was released from bail. No further action was taken against him.

June 11, 2008: Excavations begin at the garden of a house in Winston Avenue, Henley Green.

June 12, 2008: Searches at the house draw a blank.

June 19, 2012: After a tip off police begin excavating land in Courthouse Green.

June 20, 2012: Two men, aged 74 and 45, are both arrested as part of the investigation. A back garden in Miles Meadow, Bell Green, is searched.

June 21, 2012: The 74-year-old is released without charge. The 45-year-old was released on bail but charges against him were dropped in August.

December 14, 2012: Police and Nicola’s parents launch the 21st anniversary appeal, asking for help identifying two men seen close the Black Pad on the day she disappeared.

December 12, 2013: A forensic breakthrough in the case is announced.

December 17, 2013: Three arrests are made in connection with Nicola’s disappearance.

February 14, 2014: Officers search nature reserve near Binley, Coventry.

February 26, 2014: Police arrest 49-year-old man and 47-year-old woman in connection with Nicola’s disappearance.

March 3, 2014: Officers and cadaver dogs search Coombe Abbey Country Park, near Binley, Coventry.




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