Published on Wednesday 8 February 2012 12:47
THE family of Hartlepool youngster Katrice Lee – who vanished in Germany 30 years ago – have successfully campaigned for the case to be re-investigated.
The Royal Military Police (RMP) say they will now use “modern techniques” to re-examine the circumstances surrounding her disappearance from a supermarket in Paderborn, Germany, on November 28, 1981, on her second birthday.
The move follows pressure from the Lee family who say they have suffered “decades of silence” and a catalogue of unfairness and errors.
Her father, Richie Lee, 62, who was serving with the British Army in Germany at the time his young daughter vanished, said there are a string of reasons why a review of the case was necessary.
The heat being taken off the initial search when police told press that Katrice had drowned in a nearby river despite her being terrified of water and a body never being found;
Supermarket staff not being interviewed until six weeks later;
Details of Katrice having a turn in her eye were never released to the press and the family being told it was a “figment of their imagination”;
The family being denied case notes after all these years.
The retired postman told the Mail: “I’m all for it. It should be looked at. There are so many questions we feel we haven’t had answers to. They must think that one day we just won’t care, well they couldn’t be more wrong.
“You know when you’re in the supermarket and your child goes missing and your heart is in your mouth until you see them again? Well my heart has been in my mouth for 30 years.”
He added: “I was disgusted with how we were treated then and I am now.
“The last time I spoke to someone from the RMP was 10 years ago and I feel like they came, made a whole host of promises and then went. It was like they patted me on the head and thought ‘that’ll keep him quiet for another 10 years’.
“Ten years and I’ve heard nothing, 30 years and Katrice is still missing. We will continue to be a thorn in their side. “We are not going to go away, we’re still here 30 years on and we’ll carry on until we get answers.”
A Ministry Of Defence spokesman said: “This is a particularly distressing case and we offer our heartfelt sympathy to the family.
“The RMP, like any other police force, routinely review their unsolved cases and have dedicated new resources to this particular investigation. They are re-examining the circumstances surrounding Katrice’s disappearance using modern investigative techniques.
“The RMP do not routinely disclose information in relation to ongoing investigations. Should a new line of enquiry develop, disclosure of the case files could have a prejudicial effect on the investigation and potentially prejudice the right to a fair trial. The RMP is also obliged to protect personal data and information given to the RMP in confidence.
“Katrice’s family are being kept closely in touch with developments through dedicated family liaison officers and while it is important not to raise expectations, we will do all we can to bring some form of closure for the Lee family.”
Sharon Lee, who has since been divorced from Richie and lives in Gosport, Hampshire, went to the exact place where Katrice vanished at the weekend.
Anyone with information about Katrice’s whereabouts is urged to contact the Missing Persons Bureau on 0500 700700
I do wonder if there were independent witnesses who confirmed that she was ever in the supermarket?