Charges unlikely after search for Nicola Payne was abandoned

By Steve Carpenter 28/06 Updated: 28/06 13:31

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Teen Nicola Payne went missing in December 1991. Last year a new picture of how she might look now was released in the hope she may still be alive.

AN informant who provided police with information into the disappearance of missing mother Nicola Payne is highly unlikely to be charged after a three-day search came to an end.

The Observer reported last week that detectives had been searching parkland off Purcell Road and an address in Miles Meadow, Courthouse Green after receiving fresh information about her disappearance 21 years ago.

The information also led to the arrest of Patrick Judge, 74, and his son Keith 45, on suspicion of conspiracy to prevent the lawful and decent burial of a body.

Both have since been released after no new evidence of items were found at both sites despite specialist scientists being called in to help a team of 30 officers search the areas of interest.

And although it is unlikely that the informant would be prosecuted for wasting police time, detectives involved with the case refuse to rule that option out.

"Thorough searches took place after new information came to light and obviously we acted on this," said detective superintendent Richard Baker.

"This was not about raising false hope – we have a responsibility to investigate fresh lines of enquiry and will continue to assess and act on all information provided to us.

"Despite the searches ending, we would like to reassure Nicola's family first and foremost as well as the local community that the investigation is very much ongoing."

Nicola was aged just 18 when she went missing from the Wood End area of the city on December 14 1991.

She had left her boyfriend's house in Winston Avenue to pick up some baby clothes for her seven-month-old son Owen but despite extensive enquiries, has not been seen or heard from since.

Nicola's family were kept aware of the developments and have asked for their privacy to be respected at this time.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101 and ask for Operation Blockley or call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800

555 111.

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Police say they have found areas of interest in this parkland off Purcell Road, Courthouse Green.

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Nicola Payne went missing on December 14, 1991. Her son Owen was just six months old. (S)

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