Police divers search Hampstead Heath pond for missing father
Daughters say they will never give up trying to find out what happened to Robert Duff
12 November, 2020 — By Bronwen Weatherby
Search teams scan the water
THE daughters of a man who went missing almost eight years ago have vowed to “never stop looking” for their father, as police divers began a search for his body in one of Hampstead Heath’s ponds yesterday (Wednesday).
Robert Duff, a father-of-two from Kentish Town, was 37 when he was last seen. He has not been heard of since January 12, 2013, when he did not show up to a family meal that was being held for his daughter’s 18th birthday. His absence was said to be completely out of character for Mr Duff and his family reported him missing that day.
Daughter Stephanie Duff: ”It’s not just a body they are searching for in there’
He remained a missing person until May 2018 when a tip-off about his disappearance prompted detectives to launch a murder investigation.
A search of a pond in Waterlow Park, Highgate, was then carried out and two men, aged 70 and 51, were arrested in Archway on suspicion of murder. They were questioned before being released under investigation.
Now police working on the case are conducting another pond search, but this time at the Heath’s No1 Pond, known locally as the “dog pond”. Stephanie Duff, one of Mr Duff’s daughters, was at the banks of the pond as the Met’s underwater search team began work.
She told the New Journal: “We’re here because we want to show a presence and so people know he’s not just a body, that’s our dad they’re looking for in that lake and he meant the world to us.”
Robert Duff has been missing since 2013
Both Ms Duff and her sister Charlotte described their dad as having been a “family man” and a “fun, happy-go-lucky person”.
“He was the biggest family man you could know. He would have never missed that meal. We were his happy place and we were such a close family, we’re all just lost without him,” Ms Duff said.
“The last time I spoke to him it was my 18th birthday, I was getting ready to go out with my friends and he rang me to tell me to be safe, have a good night, he loves me and happy birthday. Then after that he pocket-dialled me and he was just talking in general with someone in a room. At the time I didn’t take too much notice of it but now I wonder, was that the last night of his life?”
She added: “We can’t move on in our lives without finding out what happened to our dad, we can’t even grieve for him. We just want to find him, and we won’t give up. So we want those out there who know something – and we know someone knows something – to have a heart and come forward. He’s a dad, he’s a son, he’s a grandad now and he never got to meet his grandchildren. We need answers, so let us bring our dad home.”
Charlotte Duff at the pond yesterday (Wednesday)
Charlotte said they had both been doing what they could to help the search for their dad, and said: “We put up posters, we speak to people, put stuff all over social media, to show that we’re still looking for him and we won’t stop, no matter how long it takes.”
Detective Inspector Tom Williams, of the Specialist Crime Command, said investigations at the pond could take a number of weeks, adding: “If you can help, please do the right thing and contact police and give Robert’s family the closure they deserve.”
Anyone with information is asked to call the incident room on 0208 358 0200, dial 101, contact Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555 111 or visit crimestoppers-uk.org/