Tees

Katrice Lee: Military police admit photo-fit is decades old

Photo-fit of the man Image copyright Royal Military Police
Image caption Royal Military Police said this man was seen putting a child in a green saloon car near where Katrice Lee disappeared

A photo-fit of a suspect in the case of a missing toddler remained "buried" for 36 years, military police have admitted.

Katrice Lee, from Hartlepool, went missing from a Naafi supermarket at a military base in Paderborn, Germany, where her family was stationed.

The Royal Military Police (RMP) said the man in the picture was seen putting a child in a green car in the same area where she was last seen in 1981.

It released the image this week.

The photo-fit, made shortly after Katrice went missing, was discovered during a reassessment of old and new evidence.

The toddler's sister, Natasha Lee, said she had been told by an RMP officer the information had been discounted at the time but they do not know why.

Ms Lee said she was "struggling to process" why investigators would not consider the "significant" eyewitness information to be relevant, when it described a man putting a child who resembled Katrice into a car.

Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Katrice Lee went missing on her second birthday while out shopping with her mother

She believes it is because they assumed her sister had fallen in the nearby river and drowned.

Katrice's father, Richard Lee, also believes they had been "closing their minds to any other theory so the consequences are this was pushed to one side and for some reason it's been buried away".

Not releasing the photo-fit for 36 years was "glaring mistake", he said.

The image was shown on the BBC's Crimewatch on Monday night.

After the broadcast the RMP initially refused to confirm how old the photo-fit was.

In a statement the force said it "was deemed useful to the investigation" but would not confirm or deny, at that point, they had found it while reassessing evidence and decided to release it.

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