Feb. 26, 2022

The Disappearance of Luke Durbin

The Disappearance of Luke Durbin

19-year-old Luke Durbin was slowly making his way through life and navigating the trials and tribulations that adulthood has to offer. Luke lived with his mum and sister in Hollesley, Suffolk and was preparing to enter a new phase in his life. After leaving school, Luke, who loved to play the guitar enrolled himself in a music technology course at a college in Colchester, Essex, over 36 miles away from his home. The commute would have taken him well over an hour, hopping on trains and buses. After completing his first year and being tired from the huge daily commute, Luke dropped out of his college course and set his sights on a different path. 

Until he figured out what he wanted to do, Luke picked up odd jobs and got a feel for what he might want to do in the future. Being a typical 19-year-old, Luke loved to spend time with his friends and enjoyed going out clubbing. His family described him as a kind, affectionate person, so when he mysteriously vanished without a trace, his family and friends were left devastated. Just weeks before his disappearance, Luke had started a new job and was excited about the future and had no reason to run away. So what happened to Luke and where is he?


On Thursday, May 11th 2006 Luke and two of his friends, Alex and Zach were planning a big night out. Luke had taken the night off work and his friend, Alex was back home in Ipswich from his job as a chef in London. The three friends wanted to make the most of the occasion and found it only fitting that they hit the bars in Ipswich. Luke got himself ready, said goodbye to his mother Nicki and sister Alicia and jumped on the new motorcycle that his grandparents had bought him. 


Nicki told the Daily Mail “He was laughing and I just said, ‘Don’t drink and drive’ because he had this new motorbike and he said ‘no I won't’. That’s literally the last thing I said to him. He got on his bike and whizzed off and me and Alicia went to have supper. That’s the last time we ever saw Luke alive.” Luke raced down to his friend Alex's house where he met up with Zach too. The three friends caught up and chatted about the night ahead of them before deciding to head to their local pub.


Luke had planned on staying at Alex’s house so he left behind a clean pair of clothes, his bike, his wallet, keys and his phone before heading out of the house for what would be the last time. The three friends ventured down to the pub, drank a couple of beers and planned on letting the night flow naturally. In the mood for some partying, Zach, Alex and Luke agreed to go clubbing at the Zest nightclub in Ipswich. 


Unfortunately, Alex had gotten far too drunk, far too quickly and was forced to leave Zach and Luke to go to the nightclub alone. Alex was bundled into a taxi and sent on his way, not knowing that this would be the last time he would ever see his best friend. We know that Zach and Luke made it into Ipswich by taxi and were let into the Zest nightclub. The two danced the night away, for a few hours at least. 


This is when the horror begins. Zach told Luke he was going to go to the bar to grab them some drinks and as Zach made his way back onto the dancefloor, he couldn’t see Luke. He knew that Luke had left his phone at home and had no way of contacting him. In the end, Zach assumed that Luke would either return shortly or had maybe pulled and gone back to someone’s house. Zach’s movements after this time are not known.


Reports differ on whether Luke was seen at Ipswich train station at 2 am or 3 am, however, what we do know is that Luke entered the station, looking for a way home, only to be told that no trains were running at that time and that the next train wouldn’t be until many hours later. I did some digging around and according to Google Maps, the closest train station to Hollesley is Woodbridge, some 7.7 miles away. According to National Rail, the last direct train from Ipswich to Woodbridge is at 22:15 and the first direct train the following morning isn’t until 10:08. 

This could have been very different in 2006, however, I am just going off what National Rail and Google Maps are saying now in 2022. So after realizing that he had missed the last train by many hours and was ages away from the next train, Luke left the station and wasn't seen again until 03:45 am walking towards Hawk Express Cabs which is a 20-minute walk from the train station. During his walk, Luke is captured on CCTV and the receptionist on duty that night confirmed that Luke did enter the taxi rank. 


There was one problem though, Luke had left his wallet at Alex’s house and had no way of withdrawing money or paying for a taxi home. The receptionist told Luke to call his mum and get her bank details, but Luke said that he didn’t want to wake her up as she was at work early the next morning. Defeated, Luke left the taxi rank and began wandering his way through Ipswich city center once more, looking for a way home. 


Luke Durbin is spotted on CCTV for a final time at around 04:00 am when he is seen crossing a zebra crossing on Dogs Head Street which leads to the bus station. According to Google Maps, the 70A Village Links bus goes directly from Ipswich to Hollesley, taking around 51 minutes. I was unable to find a complete timetable, however, it does appear that this service does run on a limited schedule. Was Luke perhaps planning on waiting in the warmth of the bus station until he could get the bus home, or maybe he hoped that a night bus would be running? Unfortunately, we will never know the answer to those questions, as, after this, Luke mysteriously disappears. 

Friday morning rolled around and through their groggy heads, Zach and Alex waited for Luke to return to Alex’s house. After all, he had left his phone, wallet, keys and brand new motorbike there. They were hoping that he would return with a crazy story from last night, but as the hours passed, something felt off. His mother Nicki sensed that something was wrong too. Friday evening rolled around and Luke still hadn’t returned home or made contact with her which was extremely out of character. Nicki and Alicia went about their normal routines and then on Saturday morning when Luke still hadn’t returned, they both knew that something was wrong. 


Alicia told her mother “Mum, I think there’s something not right with Luke… Alex told me he didn’t come back.” Luke’s phone was going straight to voicemail and nobody had seen him since Thursday night and into Friday morning. Reality hit Nicki when she received a call from Luke’s manager, asking his whereabouts as he had failed to turn up to work. Nicki told the Daily Mail “I knew how much he likes his boss and I knew he wouldn’t let her down. He had nothing on him, apart from his clothes. I think at that point I had this horrendous silent hysteria taking over me.” 


Nicki frantically reached for her phone and began calling around the hospitals in Ipswich, but Luke hadn’t been admitted and there were no anonymous patients fitting his description. With a sick, sinking feeling in her stomach, Nicki called 999 and reported her son missing. At first, the Suffolk Constabulary thought that Luke had drunkenly fallen into a river, but after extensive searches showed no sign of him, they began to cast their nets further afield. 

After interviewing witnesses and reviewing CCTV footage from the night of Luke’s disappearance, they discovered a vital clue. Just seconds after Luke is seen walking across the zebra crossing on Dogs Head Street, a silver or white Volvo 440 with the registration M206 LYE is seen driving slowly past him. Officers found that the car's registration plates were fake, adding to their suspicions that the occupant(s) were somehow involved in Luke’s disappearance.


As of 2022, the Suffolk Constabulary is still wishing to speak with the owner of the silver/white Volvo 440 seen driving down Dogs Head Street on the night that Luke disappeared. The 440 Volvo isn’t the only car connected to Luke’s bizarre disappearance. On May 13th 2006 between 11 am and 2 pm, friends of Luke’s reported seeing him in a dark blue Renault Megane at the Turban Centre in Woodbridge, 8.9 miles from Ipswich and just 7.6 miles from his home in Hollesley.


His friends reported that the car was being driven by an unknown man and had another man inside, however, the sighting has never been fully confirmed and we do not know if the man in the car was really Luke Durbin. Not just one, but 3 of his friends came forward with this sighting, however, this sighting has failed to produce any fruitful leads.


The next lead came from London when the police were contacted by another one of Luke’s friends to tell them that she had seen him on Drury Lane, close to a theatre. Again, this sighting has never been confirmed and these sightings remain as ‘alleged’. Then, Luke’s case took another startling turn when it was revealed that he had possibly been involved in drug dealing. According to sources, Luke had been a low-level dealer but in 2010 the Suffolk Constabulary unveiled new evidence that may lead them one step closer to finding Luke. According to the Suffolk Constabulary, they had found evidence to suggest that Luke had been involved with selling cocaine and had connections to gangs in Brixton.


They also theorized that Luke may have had significant debts with his higher-ups, something that Nicki refutes. She said “Was Luke in huge amounts of debts? Nothing made sense. Even if he was in debt, Luke had a brand new motorbike he could have gotten money for and he had his wages waiting for him.” This new theory led the police to the theory that perhaps Luke had run away to start a new life and escape the heat. 

Nicki once more refuted this theory saying “Luke would not - I would absolutely would put my life on it - Luke would not have voluntarily gone missing just to start up a new life. He was a 19 year old, naive boy. He had nothing. He had no money. He had nothing. He had a motorbike.” 

Luke’s case sat cold with Nicki and Alicia advocating for Luke’s safe return as each month passed. The Suffolk Constabulary continued to investigate Luke’s disappearance and in August 2011 another bizarre twist was added to the case. A man and a woman in Brixton were arrested for using Luke’s details whilst online shopping in August 2007. The man and woman, whose names have never been released were questioned but released without charge. It is unknown whether they have any connection to Luke’s case or not. 


Luke’s mother, Nicki continues to talk to the press and has worked with “The Missing” podcast to help spread awareness about Luke’s disappearance and to help bring him home. 19-year-old Luke Durbin was last seen on May 12th 2006 in Ipswich, Suffolk and is described as a white male, 5 '10”, tall, slim build with short dark brown hair and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing a black/grey long-sleeved collared shirt, a purple and grey ‘White Stuff’ sweatshirt, faded denim jeans with a pattern on the thigh and chocolate brown suede, moccasin-style shoes. Anyone who was in the area at the time of his disappearance or has any information about his disappearance is asked to contact the Suffolk Constabulary on 101 or 01473 613513. Alternatively, you can contact Crime Stoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.



https://www.suffolk.police.uk/news/missing-persons/luke-durbin https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-suffolk-25494730 https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-10414507/Could-car-lead-missing-Luke-Durbin.html 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-suffolk-52443057 https://www.ipswichstar.co.uk/news/schoolmate-80-per-cent-sure-she-saw-luke-7493156 https://www.theguardian.com/society/2006/aug/29/familyandrelationships.lifeandhealth 




https://www.ipswichstar.co.uk/news/words-of-comfort-over-luke-7478410 https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-suffolk-15618560 





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