Two arrested over missing Nicola

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Published: Tuesday 27th January 2015 by The News Editor

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Two men have been arrested on suspicion of murdering young mother Nicola Payne, who disappeared 23 years ago while walking to her parents’ house.

Nigel Barwell, 51, of Copperas Street, and Thomas O’Reilly, 50, of Ribble Road, both Coventry, were charged today with the 18-year-old’s killing, and will appear before magistrates tomorrow, West Midlands Police said.

Both men were first arrested in connection with Ms Payne’s disappearance in late 2013 and had been on conditional bail until they were formally charged.

She has not been seen since disappearing in Coventry on December 14 1991 after leaving her boyfriend’s house.

Her family have been informed of the latest developments.

Meanwhile, police have said the search for Ms Payne – who has never been found despite intensive efforts – will continue.

Detective Inspector Martin Slevin, leading the investigation, said: “Today’s charges follow months of extensive inquiries 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.

“I would like to thank the local community for their support and those people who have come forward to provide information about Nicola’s disappearance.

“I believe that there are still people out there with vital information yet to come forward and I appeal to them directly to contact us on 101 or confidentially Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

“We will always assess and act on any new information.”

Ms Payne had a seven-month-old son at the time of her disappearance.

In the years since she went missing, her parents John and Marilyn Payne have made emotional appeals for information to trace what became of their daughter.

In December 2013, they said: “For many years we have suffered not knowing what has happened to her.

“If there is anyone who has information that will assist the police, please make contact with the officers.”

In late 2013, police sent off several items for cutting-edge forensic analysis, in what detectives at the time called “a breakthrough” in the case, in a bid to piece together Ms Payne’s fate.

It followed a decision in 2012 to reopen the investigation into her disappearance, after new information came to light.

There have been several appeals for information since then, 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.

Barwell and O’Reilly, who are currently in custody, are set to appear at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court, tomorrow.

A 52-year-old year old woman, originally arrested in December 2013 on suspicion of perverting the course of justice and later bailed, has since been released without charge.

Published: Tuesday 27th January 2015 by The News Editor

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