Lamplugh sister tells of kidnap attempt

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The Independent Online
THE 22-year-old sister of Suzy Lamplugh, the estate agent missing since her abduction by a client called 'Mr Kipper' in 1986, spoke yesterday of her ordeal at the hands of an armed man who allegedly threatened to rape her.

Elizabeth Lamplugh was forced into her car by the man after she parked outside her home in Oxford on Sunday night. The attacker threatened her with a knife and told her to drive to a secluded spot, but she followed the advice set down by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, the women's safety organisation founded by her mother, Diana, and escaped unscathed.

Yesterday, Ms Lamplugh said she had talked calmly to the man until she managed to escape and raised the alarm with neighbours. But it was not until afterwards that she thought of her sister, Suzy.

'To be honest, what happened to my sister did not really go through my mind,' she said. 'I offered him my car, but all I could think about was how would I get to work, and would I be able to claim my insurance? I thought afterwards how lucky I had been and I thought about what Suzy had been through. I think a sort of overdrive comes in and another part of you takes over.'

Ms Lamplugh, a publishing assistant, said she had often thought about what she would do in such a situation, but added: 'You can't live in fear that someone is going to attack you. How unlucky can one family be?'

Diana Lamplugh said: 'I am obviously very shocked. This has had a great impact because of what happened to Suzy. But Lizzie did very, very well and we are extremely proud of her.

'(The attacker) made her get back into the car and held the knife at her and threatened her with rape. But she just stayed very calm and said 'OK, yes, I'll get in the car', then she started chatting and saying she had a rotten cold and didn't feel too good.

'She calmed him down, chatting all the time and then persuaded him he could have the car if he let her go. He demanded an address from her and with great presence of mind she gave him a false one. Her actions were a perfect example of what women should do in situations like that: stay calm, talk quietly and try not to alarm the attacker even more.'

One unconfirmed report yesterday said the man allowed Ms Lamplugh to walk free in return for her car, but he was unable to start it. The report said he was still trying to start the vehicle when police arrived, but one senior officer said he was kept occupied by one of Ms Lamplugh's neighbours.

Suzy Lamplugh was 25 when she disappeared in July 1986 after arranging to meet 'Mr Kipper'. Her body was never found but it was assumed she was murdered. The police inquiry into her disappearance was called off five years ago and now just one detective at Kensington police station has control over the file.

The case was reopened briefly after suggestions that John Cannan, currently serving life for the 1987 murder of Shirley Banks, a sales manager from Bristol, may have kidnapped her. But Cannan, who had the nickname 'Kipper' years before the disappearance, always denied the allegations and no charges were brought.

Detective Inspector David Buckenham of Thames Valley Police praised Elizabeth Lamplugh's actions last night and those of the unnamed neighbour who kept the alleged attacker talking for 15 minutes until police arrived.

Yesterday afternoon, a 20-year-old Frenchman was charged with attempted kidnapping, making threats to kill, robbery and being in possession of an offensive weapon. He is due to appear at Oxford City magistrates' court this morning.

(Photograph omitted)