£5,000 reward in search for missing father-of-two who family fear ‘may have gone same way as Lana’

Thursday, 14th March 2013

Published: 14 March, 2013

THE family of a man who “disappeared into thin air” two months ago have offered up their life savings as a reward.

Robert Duff’s two daughters, schoolteacher mother and former partner have raised £5,000 in a desperate bid for information.

The 37-year-old, a former pupil of William Ellis School, left a message on his daughter’s mobile phone the day before he went missing on January 13.

Mr Duff's bank account has not been touched since and he has not been spotted on any CCTV despite an extensive police trawl.

The family raised the alarm after he uncharacteristically did not show up to his daughter’s 18th birthday.

Although keeping the cases separate, detectives have said they are investigating links to the disappearance two years ago of Mr Duff’s friend, Lana Purcell, who is feared dead by her family.

Mr Duff’s family said they are “terrified he’s gone the same way as Lana”.

Police issued a renewed appeal for information about the “happy-go-lucky” mother following a campaign by her family and the New Journal. Both Mr Duff and Ms Purcell had struggled with hard-drug addiction and moved in similar circles, according to investigators.

“Lana was a friend of his,” said Louise Smyth, 36, the mother of Mr Duff’s two daughters. “They grew up together, and they knew each other well. They were in some of the same circles. 

“Drug users from Kentish Town, Camden Town, Holloway and Archway – areas he frequented – have started to put one and one together. They are all saying he’s gone the same way as Lana, but nobody knows where that is. It’s like they have both been sucked into a Bermuda triangle, but a triangle of what exactly no one knows.

“Everyone is baffled, even the hardened junkies who know everyone and everything, which is what really worries me.”

Mr Duff’s daughter Stephanie, 18, who lives in Grafton Road, Kentish Town, with her mother Louise and 10-year-old sister, said: “There’s not a week in my life I haven’t seen Dad.”

Mr Duff lived in West Hampstead and grew up in Ingestre Road, Kentish Town. The last time his family heard from him was at 8.30pm on January 12 when he told Stephanie to be careful on a night out with friends. Around 45 minutes later, he accidentally "pocket-dialled" his daughter and left a voicemail with the voices of a woman and two men in the background. Police traced the voicemail to Archway.

Stephanie said: “If we could find out who the people in the voicemail were we would be onto something. Those last moments are a mystery.”

Raised by a “brilliant” schoolteacher mother and a “responsible” father who owned a metal business in Kentish Town, Mr Duff trained as a metal engineer and earned money as a Camden Town DJ, known by the name of DJ Flight, in his spare time. 

Detective Inspector Mike West, who is overseeing the case, said the disappearance has now been graded of “high” importance within the Missing Persons Unit.

He said: “The voicemail Mr Duff’s daughter Stephanie received is a key part of our investigation. But there are further lines of inquiry too.”

DI West said that, though Lana Purcell and Mr Duff shared some contacts and knew each other, it was “very important not to blur the two cases”.

Robert is described as 5ft 7in tall, of slim build with short brown hair.


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