Gaynor Lord: Friend ‘feels terrible’ over call from missing woman

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Gaynor Lord: New CCTV released of missing Norwich woman

A friend of missing woman Gaynor Lord said she “feels terrible” after cutting short a phone call from her on the last day she was seen.

The mother-of-three was reported missing in Norwich on Friday after failing to return home from work.

Police officers and specialist dive teams are continuing to search a river and park in the city.

Julie Butcher said her friend seemed “fine” when they last met on Tuesday.

Police, who have released new CCTV footage of Ms Lord, say there is a “high probability” that the 55-year-old went into the River Wensum.

Ms Butcher, who spoke to officers on Saturday, also received a “pocket call” from Ms Lord on Friday where she could just hear movement.

Police say specialist officers are working with Ms Lord’s family

She received the first call from her friend at 14:15 GMT on Friday but had to cut it short to speak to a client.

“I said ‘I’m at home’ and I explained I was sorting out the internet and my phone rang and it was one of my clients and I had to speak to them,” she said.

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

About seven or eight minutes later, she called Ms Lord but could not get through.

Ms Butcher tried again and got through to voicemail before also sending a WhatsApp message to her friend to say 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.

She received another call form Ms Lord at 16:15 but it “sounded like a pocket call – I could hear movement in her pocket”.

Julie Butcher said Ms Lord did not pick up the phone when she rang back

Ms Butcher said: “I keep going over the conversation. If I hadn’t answered that call [from the client] would she have talked to me? I feel terrible. I feel so sorry for the family.”

She said Ms Lord seemed “fine” when they last met on Tuesday at her workplace, Jarrolds department store in Norwich.

She said: “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.

Timeline of events from Friday 8 December

Friday 14:45 GMT Gaynor Lord is seen on London Street in Norwich city centre, heading towards the cathedral

Friday at about 16:00 An eyewitness says they saw a woman matching the description of Ms Lord in Wensum Park

Friday evening Ms Lord is reported missing after failing to return home from work. Her belongings, including clothing and jewellery, were found by a member of the public in Wensum Park

Friday evening Wensum Park is closed to the public

Monday Specialist search teams use a drone and sonar equipment to scour the area but nothing is found

Tuesday Police turn their attention to underwater searches

Wednesday Police release CCTV footage of Ms Lord who was last seen walking up St Augustines Street

Thursday Low visibility, cold water and debris contribute to challenging conditions for specialist divers in the River Wensum

Police have been outlining the “extraordinarily challenging” conditions faced by specialist divers searching the river.

Ch Supt Dave Buckley, from Norfolk Police, said: “Visibility is between zero and 1ft (0.3m) with temperatures as low as 4C (39F).

“So it’s slow and methodical at the moment.

“Then there’s obviously leaves, branches, debris, and the flow of the river to contend with, which is the biggest problem because there’s been so much rainfall.

“Everything we know is pointing to a high probability that Gaynor went into the water.”

As well as coping with low visibility and debris, the specialist divers are also swimming against the flow of the river

His conclusion came from CCTV and the “very limited witnesses” they have available, along with details about her behaviour in the lead-up to her disappearance.

But while that remained the working hypothesis, officers were exploring other lines as well, he added.

Norfolk Fire and Rescue has been helping the search, assisted by Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service’s specialist under water drone.

Three types of sonar – a technique that uses sound to detect objects – have been used.

Ch Supt Buckley said this “quite detailed” approach allowed divers to target where they think there might be objects.

He confirmed it was still a missing person inquiry and that 30 people had come forward with information.

“People are very shocked. No-one knows why she has done [this] or what she has done and we’ll have to work to see if we can find out,” he said.

Some of Ms Lord’s behaviour had been “out of character” and specialist officers were supporting her friends and family, the force added.

The investigation team has also spoken to colleagues from Lancashire Constabulary about their investigation into Nicola Bulley’s disappearance earlier this year.

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