Nicola Payne: Two men charged with teenager's murder 23 years after she disappeared

The 18-year-old, who had a baby boy, has never been found

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The Independent Online

Two men have been charged with murdering Nicola Payne, 23 years after she disappeared while walking to her parents' house.

Miss Payne, who was 18 and had a seven-month-old son when she vanished, has not been seen since 14 December 1991. Her body has never been found.

Nigel Barwell, 51 of Copperas Street, Coventry, and Thomas O’Reilly, 50, from Ribble Road, Coventry, were charged with abduction and murder on Tuesday and have been remanded in custody to appear before Birmingham Magistrates' Court tomorrow.

Both men were originally arrested in December 2013 and had been on bail as the investigation continued. They would have been in their late 20s at the time of Miss Payne's disappearance.

Her family have been informed of the development by police and are working closely with family liaison officers.

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Undated handout file photo of Nicola Payne

Detective Inspector Martin Slevin, who is leading the investigation, said: “Today’s charges follow months of extensive enquiries by a team of dedicated officers who are investigating the disappearance of Nicola. But I want to reassure Nicola’s family and the local community that the search for Nicola will continue.

"Over the past year a number of sites have been searched and these investigations will carry on."

In the years since Miss Payne went missing, her parents John and Marilyn Payne have made emotional appeals for information to find out what happened to their daughter.

In 2013, police revealed a breakthrough in the inquiry, sending a number of items for forensic analysis, and in March last year officers said they had recovered several “items of interest” from a three-day search of woodland in Coombe Abbey Country Park, near Coventry.

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Searches were carried out at Coombe Abbey Country Park, near Coventry

The case had gone cold but was reopened in 2012 in light of new leads about Miss Payne's disappearance.

She went missing on the 10-minute walk from her boyfriend’s home to her parents’ house in Coventry just after 12.10pm. The couple had been making last-minute plans for moving into their new three-bedroom house the next weekend.

A 52-year-old year old woman who was arrested in 2013 on suspicion of perverting the course of justice has been released without charge.

Det Insp Slevin thanked the people who had come forward during the investigation but said he believes there are still others who could help the police.

Anyone with information is asked to contact West Midlands Police on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Additional reporting by PA