A British man has insisted police “have it wrong” after he was named prime suspect in the suspected murder of a mother and her baby daughter in Canada.
Robert Leeming, 34, said he he felt “traumatised” over accusations he killed his tenant Jasmine Lovett, 25, and her one-year-old daughter Aliyah Sanderson, who vanished from the Cranston area of Calgary in mid-April.
The 34-year-old, who has lived in Canada for six years, was arrested on Thursday at his home in Cranston, but was later released without charge.
Calgary Police have indicated he “remains the primary suspect in the case”.
“They have it wrong, as far as I’m concerned. Of course they do,” Leeming told local media following his release, describing his treatment as a “very stressful experience”.
Ms Lovett and Aliyah were last seen in Cranston on the evening of Tuesday
April 16, according to police. While activity on her bank accounts stopped on April 18.
“There have been no signs of life since,” the force said.
“(We) do not believe this incident to be random because the suspect and victims knew each other,” police said.
Leeming said he last saw Ms Lovett on the evening of Thursday April 18, accepting he must have been “the last person to see them”.
The day before, they had all gone to a picnic area at Bragg Creek, a beauty spot around 40 miles away from Cranston, for “beers and some food” before returning home.
Leeming, who is from England but was granted permanent residency in Canada after he moved to the country in 2013, told reporters “nothing unusual had gone on”.
He described his relationship with Ms Lovett, who had been living at his property with Aliyah since October 2018, as “just good friends”.
Asked if there had ever any romantic involvement between them, he replied: “There was initially, but towards the end no.”
The mother and daughter’s family said they were “devastated” by their disappearance.
“They are so loved by so many people and we just want answers,” they said in a statement to the Calgary Herald.
“We are hoping and praying for closure for everyone involved.”
On Saturday, Calgary Police appealed for anyone who saw a “Caucasian man in his mid-30s” driving a Mercedes SUV in the Bragg Creek area between April 16 and April 20.
“The Calgary Police Service continues to search for evidence in the suspected homicides of Jasmine Lovett and Aliyah Sanderson,” said a spokesman for the force.
“The man may have been alone or with either of the victims, and may have been carrying mulch in his vehicle.
“We are currently working with multiple other agencies to search Cranston and the area around Bragg Creek for evidence.”
UK Foreign Office officials are understood to be aware of media reports of the case although no request for consular assistance has been made.