Gosport MP hopes riverbank excavation and renewed investigation into toddler's mystery disappearance will end '˜decades of hell' for family

AN MP has welcomed the move to look into the case of a missing toddler who vanished nearly 37 year ago in Germany - with the politician hoping it will end '˜decades of hell' for the family.

Monday, 30th April 2018, 3:05 pm
Updated Monday, 30th April 2018, 3:11 pm
Katrice Lee

Katrice Lee, whose mother Sharon and sister Natasha live in Gosport, went missing from a Naafi shopping complex in Paderborn, Germany, on her second birthday on November 28, 1981 - never to be seen again.

Her family, including father Richie Lee, met Royal Military Police (RMP) officers reinvestigating the case in March.

But Katrice’s family, backed by Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage, have long criticised the initial investigation and demanded to see the case files.

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Royal Military Police want to hear from anyone who saw this man at the time Katrice Lee vanished in 1981 Picture: BBC

The RMP has since carried out Operation Bute, a reinvestigation into the case after senior officials admitted mistakes in the initial investigation were made in 2012.

And the fight to shed more light on the little girl’s mystery disappearance has now resulted in police and experts to lead 100 soldiers on a five-week, £100,000 forensic excavation of the banks of the River Alme in Germany.

The site was identified after the release in 2017 of an age-progressed e-fit of a man seen at the NAAFI holding a child similar to Katrice.

He was spotted parked in a green saloon car on a bridge over the river the day after her disappearance.

Royal Military Police want to hear from anyone who saw this man at the time Katrice Lee vanished in 1981 Picture: BBC

Speaking of the potential breakthrough, Ms Dinenage said: ‘After enduring decades of hell the family deserves answers about what happened to Katrice. I’ve worked alongside Katrice’s mum, Sharon, and sister, Natasha, for many years and managed to secure RMP agreement to renew focus on the case back in 2012.

‘This will be an unimaginably difficult time for them but I hope more than anything that they get the news they desperately need.’

The fresh call to solve Katrice’s case also follows a long-fought campaign by her father Richie, from Hartlepool.

Following a funding boost in the search for Madeleine McCann, he has previously called for an ‘unequal system’ to become a ‘level playing field’.

He said: ‘Why are they throwing money at this case when there are thousands of other cases out there that get nothing?’

As previously reported, family and supporters marched on Downing Street in a bid to demand the RMP open its case files. The case was also on BBC Crimewatch last year.