Naked man arrested in search for missing British girl

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The Independent Online

French police searching for missing London schoolgirl Bunmi Shagaya said today a man spotted naked in his van near the lake at which the youngster disappeared had been arrested at his home.

At a press conference in Dieppe, northern France, Captain Jean­Marc Cruciani said police traced the man to his home after a young girl took down the number plate of his van.

At 8pm last night the man was arrested and taken into custody. He has not been named.

Captain Cruciani said: "This man is not a suspect because we have found no evidence that connects this incident of exhibitionism with the missing girl."

Bunmi, 11, a pupil from Hillmead Primary School in Lambeth, south London, went missing at 4.00 pm on Monday after swimming at Cany­Barville, a former quarry, while on a school trip.

The man was spotted parked in his white Transit­style van at 8pm on Monday, four hours after Bunmi was reported missing.

The man in his 40s who lives in the area of the lake gave police an account of his movements during Monday. Police were checking to see if his account was correct.

A major search for Bunmi was resumed today with more than 100 officers searching woodland surrounding the lake.

Meanwhile police divers returned for an underwater search while officers in police boats conducted a systematic search of the lake surface which has been divided up into quadrants. Sniffer dogs were also being used and a helicopter was expected to return later today.

Captain Cruciani said police are still exploring three possible theories as to Bunmi's disappearance. They are that she has been abducted, that she had an accident in the water and drowned or that she wandered off into the countryside.

Members of Bunmi's distraught family yesterday travelled to the lake a former quarry, which is surrounded by woodland. They were said to be keen to join in the search for clues to her whereabouts but have been discouraged from revisiting the scene by Gendarmerie officers who resumed their fingertip search of the lake.

Richard Morgan, press attache with the British Embassy in Paris, said he and two police family liaison officers from Brixton, had spent much of last night discussing whether or not the family should return to the scene where Bunmi disappeared.

Mr Morgan said: "The family is very keen to go back down to the lake but it is not clear what exactly they would do there. They want to go back to the scene but the French police were suggesting it was not such a good idea.

"It does not fit in with the way they operate. I have not seen the family yet this morning, but I expect they are just as upset and distraught as they were last night when they visited the lake. It is not known yet whether they will speak with the press today."

Teachers and pupils were set to be questioned by French police.

Bunmi, a pupil from Hillmead Primary School in Lambeth, south London, went missing at 4pm on Monday. She had been swimming in an area of the lake and was last seen by a female member of the public wearing a blue swimsuit drying herself near the swimming area of the lake.

In another development a French local newspaper claimed a police sniffer dog had picked up the youngster's scent after her bag was discovered at the lake.

The report in the Paris Normandie said the scent was traced to a children's play park next to a car park, where it disappeared.

Police, the article stated, had not ruled out the possibility that Bunmi had been abducted. Inside the bag was a young child's clothes, shoes and a towel.