Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Sam Russell

Gaynor Lord 'upbeat and happy' days before she disappeared, says friend

Missing mother-of-three Gaynor Lord was “upbeat and happy” and talking about Christmas just days before she disappeared, a friend has said.

Detectives searching for Ms Lord say they have not been able to establish Ms Lord’s state of mind when she went missing with “any degree of confidence”.

Her friend Julie Butcher said she seemed “fine” when they last met on Tuesday last week.

“We were talking. She was a bit busy but we were talking about Christmas and she seemed fine, no different to the usual Gaynor. She was quite upbeat and happy,” Ms Butcher told the BBC.

Norfolk Constabulary released new CCTV footage of what they believe is the last sighting of Ms Lord before she disappeared in Norwich on Friday.

Officers said “everything we know is pointing to a high probability” that Ms Lord went into the River Wensum, saying “nobody knows why she’s done what she’s done”.

The 55-year-old disappeared after leaving work early in Norwich city centre at 2.45pm.

Her belongings were found in Wensum Park – around 1.5 miles from her workplace at Jarrolds department store – and her coat was discovered in the river which runs through the park.

The newly released clip shows Ms Lord, wearing glasses and a long coat, walking along St Augustines Street in Norwich, which is busy with traffic, at 4.01pm on Friday.

Ms Butcher told the BBC she spoke to her friend at 2.15pm on Friday but she had to cut the call short to speak to a client.

“I said I would call her back and she said ‘yes’,” Ms Butcher said.

Gaynor Lord (Norfolk Police/PA)

Ms Butcher said she returned the call but could not get through. She also sent a message to tell her friend she was free.

“I think she was still at work when she called me, I don’t know but maybe that’s why she couldn’t answer,” she said.

“I keep going over the conversation. If I hadn’t answered that call would she have talked to me? I feel terrible. I feel so sorry for the family.”

Ms Butcher said she received another call form Ms Lord at 4.15pm but it “sounded like a pocket call – I could hear movement in her pocket”.

Officers have said that Ms Lord’s clothing, mobile phone, glasses and jewellery, including two rings, were discovered at various locations in the park.

A huge search is being carried out by specialist divers working in an “extraordinarily challenging environment”.

Chief Superintendent Dave Buckley said CCTV footage did not reveal anything about the motivations for Ms Lord’s actions.

“There’s nothing we’ve been able to establish that really gives us a clear position on her state of mind that I would feel any degree of confidence of saying what we think it is at the moment,” he said.

“We continue to talk to friends, family, anybody who can help us that we know she’s had contact with.

“We have got hold of her mobile device, we will work our way through that systematically … and see if we can find out more accurately why we’ve ended up where we have.”

Police dive teams at the River Wensum (Getty Images)

Mr Buckley said officers had “some indications” of why Ms Lord left work more than hour before she was scheduled to finish.

But he added: “We’re just cautious of everything we know at the moment because clearly we’ve ended up in the situation we have, which is not usual.

“I don’t think any of the conversations we’ve had are completely informing us as to why her state of mind ended up being what it was.”

Mr Buckley said the force “can’t explain some of her behaviour that day”, adding: “We’re working really closely with family, with friends, with anybody else who might have had contact with her in the recent days or weeks to try and understand why this might have happened.”

He said officers are supporting her family, adding: “People are very shocked by what’s happened. Nobody knows why she’s done what she’s done.”

Mr Buckley said it will take “a couple of days” or longer to complete the search of the stretch of river, which has included using a range of sonar equipment.

“It’s very, very challenging. The river is very, very full of water with all the rain, full of lots of debris. The divers can see about one foot in front of them,” he said.

Mr Buckley said the force was keeping an open mind about what happened to Ms Lord but “everything we know is pointing to a high probability that Gaynor went into the water”.

But the senior officer added: “Nobody’s seen her go into the river, nobody’s seen her go into the water. But we know she ended up in the park.”

Police have also confirmed they have consulted officers from Lancashire Constabulary who worked on the search for Nicola Bulley.

Ms Bulley’s body was found in the River Wyre in Lancashire on February 19.

The Lancashire force was criticised over its handling of that investigation and the disclosure of Ms Bulley’s personal information.

CCTV footage shows Ms Lord jogging up Bedford Street after leaving work at the Bullards Gin counter in Jarrolds department store at 2.45pm, more than an hour before her shift was due to end at 4pm.

She is wearing a white shirt and a yellow tank top, and is carrying a large olive-coloured coat under her arm.

She can be seen on the footage walking into London Street at 2.47pm and then crossing the road in Queen Street without waiting for a red light, narrowly missing moving traffic, heading towards the cathedral.

Around 30 minutes later, at 3.22pm, video shows Ms Lord putting her jacket on as she walks away from Norwich Cathedral.

At 3.49pm, CCTV captured her walking along St George’s Street near the Playhouse theatre.

She then walks along St Crispins Road towards Pitt Street at 3.53pm.

Ms Lord is described as white, 5ft 6in, with a blonde shoulder-length bob.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.