CCTV may hold clue to missing girl
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CCTV may hold clue to missing girl

Selma Milovanovic and Simon Mann
October 1, 2008 .

CROATIAN police last night were finally expected to view security camera images taken on the night that Melbourne backpacker Britt Lapthorne went missing from outside a Dubrovnik night club two weeks ago, after a bungle in which they initially received wrong footage.

As the hunt for the whereabouts of the RMIT business student intensified, the Lapthorne family said they were posting a 100,000 ($A176,000) reward for information leading to the safe return of their daughter, who police fear may have been kidnapped.

Other Australian officials also rallied support, with Senator Steve Fielding contacting the Lapthornes from Croatia, where he is on a parliamentary trip.

Ms Lapthorne, 21, was last seen leaving Club Fuego in Dubrovnik on September 18. Her older brother, champion cyclist Darren Lapthorne, is searching for her in the popular tourist town. Her father, Dale, and boyfriend Simon Ingberger, also intend travelling to Croatia.

A bouncer working at Club Fuego has told Darren Lapthorne that he saw Britt leaving the club with five other young women and two men. He said there were two cars and the women were unwilling to go with the men. But he did not see Britt get into a car.

Darren Lapthorne said the delay in viewing the CCTV footage was frustrating. "It's taking a long time and it's time that Britt doesn't have," he said. "She's paying for this time right now. We are desperate it's not looking good."

Croatian police have admitted they have no leads in the case, which they were treating as a disappearance, not a murder. "This is not a crime movie where you quickly arrive at an answer," county police spokesman Ivan Kukrika said.

"The police are doing everything they can. These sort of problems cannot be solved in a day or two as people may expect but systematically."

Police would not comment on a Croatian TV report that a member of the public had seen Ms Lapthorne on the island of Sipan four days ago.

Police would not reveal whether they had checked two local phone numbers Ms Lapthorne is believed to have called from her mobile on the night she disappeared. But they confirmed that with Interpol's help, they were checking the mobile records of other backpackers who travelled with her.

An Australian Federal Police officer has travelled to Dubrovnik from London to assist in the search and a homicide detective from Croatia's capital, Zagreb, has also joined the investigation.