Parents, school staff "numb" at murder of British girl in France


SHOCKED parents and staff from Launceston College in Cornwall were numb with disbelief last night at the horrific murder in France of a 13 year old schoolgirl, Caroline Dickinson.

She was found on Thursday morning in bed in the room she was sharing with four other girls from a school party of 40 children and five adults, on the first floor of a youth hostel in the holiday village of Pleine Fougere, .45 km east of St Malo, in the Brittany Normandy area.

Immediate attempts were made to resuscitate her but she was found to be dead. The French examining magistrate leading the investigation, Mr Gerard Zaug, confirmed the results of a post mortem examination showed the youngster was raped and probably suffocated.

As French authorities continued intensive inquiries into the murder, Devon and Cornwall police set up a liaison team to help anxious parents whose children are still with the school party in Brittany.

Other children and teachers who attend the 1,200 pupil comprehensive on the leafy outskirts of the Cornish town, north of Plymouth, will be offered expert counselling to help them try to come to terms with the tragedy.

The head teacher, Mr Alan Wroath, said the close knit 1,000 pupil comprehensive was "absolutely devastated" by the girl's death.

Outside Launceston College, Mr Wroath, his face wreathed in anguish, explained how the hostel was chosen because it "very quiet and away from towns".

He added: "Our thoughts are with her mother, father and family."

He described staff on the ill fated trip as "experienced and dedicated professionals who have my total support".

Launceston has used the French hostel for three years as a base for Activities Week when most of the school is away on a range of trips in Britain and abroad.

The party was due to return at a.m. on Saturday, but last night there was no indication when they would be allowed to travel home.