Sneering and smiling as he talks about his ideal woman, this is the extraordinary dating video made by the prime suspect believed to have murdered Suzy Lamplugh at the height of his crime spree.
John Cannan was filmed just six weeks before he was arrested for abducting and murdering Shirley Banks in October 1987 – but Suzy’s missing body from a year earlier means he has never faced trial.
Cannan’s expensive clothes, neat hair and wide smile are in marked contrast to the disheveled and wild police mugshot taken after his arrest weeks after his Suitor Dating Agency film was made.
The convicted rapist and killer described his perfect woman as actress Stephanie Beacham, and said he wanted to find: ‘Somebody natural, nice and pleasant, somebody with character. Somebody who’s easy and relaxed to be with’.
Yet a year before this police believe that he posed as ‘Mr Kipper’ and killed estate agent Suzy Lamplugh after luring her to a flat viewing in Fulham in July 1986.
A sneering John Cannan joined a dating company and filmed a video for prospective partners six weeks before he killed Shirley Banks
Estate agent Miss Lamplugh, 25, (pictured) disappeared in 1986, having left her West London offices to meet a mystery client known only as Mr Kipper, whom police believe is convicted killer John Cannan (right)
The former public schoolboy, with a clean-cut accent and expensive suit, said he was rich having ‘achieved all my ambitions, financially’.
But in fact was out of work and making his cash from robbing shops, which is how he was eventually caught by police.
Cannan’s chilling dating tape
How would you describe yourself?
John Cannan: ‘I think a ruff would suit me. Tights and sword, I can see me on some bridge, on some galleon, being a pirate – yes, I can handle that.’
‘Yes, I have a dislike of inflated egos – people who are, they look at me – “I’m great”, type. I don’t like that, I can’t handle that sort of inner weakness.’
That kind of pretention?
JC: ‘Yeah, I don’t like that at all. I just like just normal, average people.’
What do you look for in a person? What attracts you?
JC: ‘I think apart from the physical side, again I think somebody who’s pleasant, who’s natural, who’s relaxed, somebody who’s calm – just pleasant, someone nice.
You’re not worrying about if they’re career orientated?
JC: ‘No; no, no; no, no. As somebody who’s career orientated myself, I couldn’t blame them for that. No, not at all.’
Do you admire any famous people, past and present?
JC: ‘Yes, I’ve admired a few. People like Gandhi, philosophers like Bertrand Russell. Present day people like Prince Charles, who’s socially aware.’
‘Physically, somebody like Stephanie Beacham.’
JC: ‘No, it’s actually… I think she’s in Dallas, or from Crest or something. No, joking apart, somebody natural, nice, pleasant, somebody with character, a little personality.’
JC: ‘Practical, yes. Just somebody normal – somebody who’s easy and relaxed to be with.’
Now what about TV comedy programmes, is there anything that you like?
JC: ‘I’m a little bit dry as regards humour. Dave Allen, Benny Hill is OK.’
How dare you say Benny Hill?!
JC: ‘It’s a bit slapstick, I know, Benny Hill is OK – or he used to be, not so good nowadays, but he used to be. Yeah, that type of… mainly dry humour.’
Now, do you have any ambitions for the future, or do you feel like you’ve achieved your ambitions already?
JC: ‘I’ve achieved them. Basic, financially I’ve achieved them.
So you’re just going to curl up and keel over then?
JC: ‘No, no, not at all. I’m just looking now – I’m in a sedimentary period, where financially and career wise, I’ve achieved what I’ve wanted to achieve, I’m just now looking for what, the next thing to achieve.’
He also said his idols were Gandhi and Prince Charles and disliked anyone with an ‘inflated ego’, and relaxed watching comedians Benny Hill and Dave Allen.
When asked why he was looking for love he said: ‘I’m in a sedimentary [sic] period, where financially and career wise, I’ve achieved what I’ve wanted to achieve, I’m just now looking for what, the next thing to achieve.’
Many of the sexual deviant’s victims described him as ‘smooth-talking, suave and seductive’ and his ploy of showering them with gifts helped him have more than 100 one night stands.
Hidden behind that veneer of respectability and sophistication lay a violent criminal past that began aged 14 after he sexually assaulted a woman in a phone box.
It would culminate in at least one murder – although he has been linked to at least three more – during a spate of attacks at the time of his chilling dating video.
The dating showreel is believed to have been filmed in September 1987 – weeks before he raped a woman at knifepoint in Reading and then later that day, October 7, he tried to abduct a woman in Bristol with a gun but she kicked him in the groin.
The following day, October 8, murder victim Shirley Banks failed to meet her husband Richard after bring abducted and murdered by Cannan.
He was arrested on October 29 after being caught trying to hold up a shop in Leamington Spa and arrested – six weeks after the dating video was made clearly in an attempt to find more women.
Six months later Shirley’s naked body was discovered decomposed in the Quantock Hills in an area known as Dead Woman’s Ditch, having been beaten around the head.
He was jailed for life in 1989 – but later had it reduced to 35 years – and is eligible to apply for parole in just four years.
John Cannan was considered a real ladies’ man, backed up by his monstrous dating tape.
Handsome and smartly dressed, he conquered the hearts of attractive women and enjoyed his powers to the full.
Cannan path to rape, abduction and murder starting from when he was only 14 but has so far avoided prosecution over Suzy’s murder.
As a teenager he groped a woman in a phone box in the Birmingham suburb of Erdington but avoided jail.
He was privately educated and brought up in a comfortable home by his RAF officer father and mother Sheila, whose former home is now being searched for Suzy Lamplugh’s body.
In his twenties he settled down despite struggling to hold down a steady job, marrying June Vale in 1978 and having a baby together, Louise.
But the sex mad killer would go out looking for sex with women, some of whom he would violently abuse.
Cannan described himself as having ‘achieved all my ambitions, financially’ – in fact he was robbing shops for cash and about to embark on a spree of sex attacks and then murder
He said he was rich and educated – but was in fact out of work, holding up shops for money and recently out of prison for rape
Cannan’s brother Anthony said previously: ‘Women were taken in by him, though no relationship ever lasted. Men just saw straight through him. They knew he was shallow’.
Why is John Cannan the prime suspect in Suzy Lamplugh’s murder? How convicted killer’s name first entered the frame – and now he could be free in just FOUR years
John Cannan is considered one of Britain’s most dangerous criminals having murdered at least one woman, raped two other and tried to kidnap several more victims using knives and guns.
But police have been unable to pin Suzy Lamplugh’s murder on him but hope finding her body will get him in the dock.
Cannan is able to apply for parole in 2002 despite years of terrorising women.
March 1981: Cannan robs a knitwear shop at knifepoint and ties up a woman inside and rapes her.
July 25 1986: He is given day release from Wormwood Scrubs after serving five years for the rape.
July 28, 1986: Suzy Lamplugh, 25, disappears after leaving her office to show a man known only as ‘Mr Kipper’ around a house in Fulham, west London.
October 7 1986: Cannan rapes a woman at knifepoint in Reading. Later that day he tries to abduct a woman in Bristol with a gun.
October 8, 1987: Murder victim Shirley Banks failed to meet her husband Richard for a drink as planned and her car is missing. Six months later Shirley’s naked body was discovered decomposed in the Quantock Hills in an area known as Dead Woman’s Ditch.
October 29, 1987: Cannan caught trying to hold up a shop in Leamington Spa and arrested.
November 9 1987: Cannan is arrested on suspicion of stealing Shirley’s car and her disappearance is linked to Suzy’s. His laywer says his client had never met Suzy.
April 1989: Cannan guilty of Shirley’s murder, raping the woman in Reading and for the attempted kidnap in Bristol. He is given a whole life term later reduced to 35 years.
August 1991: He writes a letter from prison to his local paper denying any part in Suzy’s disappearance.
1999: Police start a cold case review and hand it to the murder squad
June 2002: Met name him as the only suspect
November 2002: CPS say he can’t be prosecuted because of lack of evidence and ‘trial by media’
June 2008: He loses appeal against his 35 year jail term
October 2018: Police return to his mother Sheila’s home and examine the concrete pit Cannan used to tinker with his cars.
One of his lovers described him as ‘impossible to resist’ but he then turned violent.
He attacked her in her bed in 1980 and she described seeing a ‘murderous look in his eyes’.
It was then that his more serious offending began.
In March 1981 Cannan robbed a knitwear shop at knifepoint, which is how he financed his lifestyle and trait of showering women with Champagne and flowers, wearing expensive suits and driving new BMWs.
After robbing the assistant he then decided to tie her up using tights and rape her.
He would be jailed for eight years and served five, released from Wormwood Scrubs on July 25.
Three days later Suzy Lamplugh, 25, disappears after leaving her office to show a man known only as ‘Mr Kipper’ around a house in Fulham, west London.
Cannan’s nickname was ‘kipper’ because he loved eating fish and sleeping for much of the day.
A bungled police probe and Suzy’s missing body has scuppered his prosecution.
On October 7 1986 he raped a woman at knifepoint in Reading. On the same day, he also tried to abduct Julia Holman at gunpoint in Bristol but she fought him off.
The Reading victim said the attack lasted 45-minutes and revealed: ‘He would have killed me’.
The extent to which he posed a threat to women was made clear with the rape and murder in Bristol of 29-year-old newly-wed Shirley Banks, a pretty blonde like Suzy.
She and her orange Mini went missing on October 8, 1987, from a Bristol multi-storey car park, after an evening’s shopping in Debenhams.
Three weeks later, Cannan was arrested for an attempted robbery in Leamington Spa. Mrs Banks’s tax disc was found in a briefcase in the glove box of his black BMW.
Her car was later found in a garage owned by Cannan. It had been repainted blue.
When her body was found on Easter Sunday 1988, having been bludgeoned about the head and dumped in a ditch, police were able to obtain a thumbprint that matched a print found in Cannan’s house.
He was charged with murder, a number of sexual offences against two other women and attempting to abduct a woman at gunpoint in Bristol the night before the Banks killing.
In April 1989, Cannan was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum tariff of 35 years. His appeal against conviction was rejected in 1991.
But police now appear determined to finally get him for murdering Suzy Lamplugh.
Suzy vanished three days he was given day release after serving five years for rape.
Police have been searching the old iron corrugated garage at John Cannan’s mother Sheila’s former home in Sutton Coldfield
It later emerged that in jail he was known by other inmates as Kipper, the name of a mystery man Suzy met the day she vanished.
The ten reasons why jailed killer John Cannan is the prime suspect
Mr Kipper’s efit – which looks like Cannan
1. John Cannan, a serial rapist and killer, was given the nickname ‘Kipper’ by bail hostel friends because he liked eating smelly fish and slept much of the day. Mr Kipper was the name of the man who met Suzy when she vanished.
2. He resembled a photofit of a man seen with Suzy when she disappeared 32 years ago.
3. Detectives learned that Cannan may have been the the ‘mystery man’ Suzy had a fling with.
4. Suzy had complained of being pestered by a man from Bristol, Cannan’s home city.
5. The former car salesman also had access to a BMW of the type thought to have been driven by ‘Mr Kipper’ to the estate agent appointment.
6. Three days before Suzy vanished Cannan was given day release after serving five years for rape. He also had a false alibi.
7. One witness suggested he was a stalker seen staring into Suzy’s Fulham estate agent’s window.
8. Another person claims he may have seen the convicted killer take her to a park for Champagne.
9. A taxi driver claimed the same day, in that area, a man clutching a Champagne bottle and estate agent papers hailed him.
10 Former girlfriend Gilly Paige claims her ex had joked he was ‘Mr Kipper’.
The former car salesman also had access to a BMW of the type thought to have been driven by ‘Mr Kipper’ and resembled a photofit of a man seen with Suzy.
She had complained of being pestered by a man from Bristol, Cannan’s home city. Cannan was a ‘credible’ suspect, in fact the only suspect.
In the three years after the Banks murder, Cannan was repeatedly interviewed by police about the Lamplugh case and denied any involvement.
He was arrested and questioned again during the subsequent reinvestigation which began in 2000.
But the CPS said there was not enough evidence to prosecute.
Criminologist Christopher Berry-Dee, who has had contact with him in jail, has said: ‘Cannan is cold and calculating. He is a control freak. He believes he can control the situation from his prison cell by keeping the truth to himself, that’s how he gets his kicks’.
Suzy Lamplugh’s family said last night they were desperate to ‘lay her to rest’ as police searched a property they first examined 15 years ago.
A specialist team is digging up a garage floor in the former garden of the mother of prime suspect John Cannan.
They are acting on a tip-off claiming the body of the 25-year-old estate agent could be encased in concrete in a vehicle inspection pit. But detectives faced questions over why it wasn’t checked during a search of the semi-detached property in 2003.
As cold-case investigators hoped they may finally crack one of the country’s most notorious unsolved murders:
- Miss Lamplugh’s grieving brother said it would be ‘wonderful’ to finally bury her in a ‘place of our choosing’;
- The man who has owned the property for the past 26 years said he believes there is a ‘50-50 chance’ her body could be found;
- It was revealed that the garden has been searched by at least two forces on two occasions over the deaths of two women and other crimes linked to Cannan;
- The retired Scotland Yard detective responsible for the murder inquiry defended his decision not to dig up the garden 15 years ago.
Miss Lamplugh disappeared in 1986 after showing a man known only as ‘Mr Kipper’ around a house in Fulham, south-west London.
Superintendant Neil Andrews with a picture of John Cannon during the investigation into the murder of Shirley Banks, in December 1987
Police search undergrowth in woodland near where the body of Shirley Banks was found
Police dog handlers search a stream near where the body of Shirley Banks was found at Dowsborough in Somerset
Detectives have always believed this was killer Cannan, who is serving a 35-year prison sentence for a 1987 murder.
An inmate serving time with Cannan told police in December 2002 that Miss Lamplugh may have been buried under a patio he laid at his mother’s home. But a lengthy search of the semi-detached house and its rear garden in Sutton Coldfield, near Birmingham, found nothing.
Miss Lamplugh’s brother Richard, 58, said it was a shame his parents will never see justice for their daughter. Her father Paul, who had Parkinson’s disease, died earlier this year and her mother Diana died in 2012.
Richard Lamplugh, a father of two who works as a technician at an Aberdeen school, said he had endured three decades of having his hopes ‘raised and dashed’.
Shirley Banks’s body was found by a stream in the Quantock Hills in Somerset in the 1980s
Richard Banks, husband of Shirley Banks (left), and the couple’s home in Clifton, Bristol (right)
Detective Sergeant Tim Evans with a dress identical to the one Shirley Banks bought the night she disappeared
He added: ‘It has been a long time and we have had our expectations raised before, but it would be nice if we could finally have some closure.
‘After all these years it would be wonderful to finally be able to bury Suzy in a place of our choosing and not have her under some house.’
Phillip Carey, 52, bought the four-bedroom house from Cannan’s mother Sheila in 1992. The marketing executive said it was searched in 2003 and he was contacted again by cold-case officers several months ago. ‘They’ve pulled [the garage] down and I think they’re going to start digging it up,’ he said.
Retired Detective Superintendent Jim Dickie, who led the Lamplugh inquiry for six years, said: ‘We didn’t dig up the garden because we didn’t have any specific information back then that she may be buried there.’
Current home owner Phillip Carey (left) who bought the house off Sheila Cannan in 1992 and confirmed police had searched the garden in 2003 but found nothing. Detective superintendent Jim Dickie (right), who led the investigation to find Suzy Lamplugh’s body, defended the decision not to dig up the garden 15 years ago
In 2002 John Cannan was told he would not be prosecuted despite police claiming he was the only suspect in the case
This is the final diary entry by Suzy who wrote she was meeting Mr Kipper at 12.45pm on July 28 1986 but she never returned