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Last Updated: Sunday, 29 June, 2003, 08:56 GMT 09:56 UK
Ten years on: a family's grief
Laura Smith-Spark
BBC News Online

Cliff and Lin Tiltman with the memorial plaque
Claire's parents say they are sickened by the vandalism
A decade ago 16-year-old Claire Tiltman was stabbed to death in an apparently random and motiveless attack in an alleyway. Now her memorial has been vandalised.

Claire, an only child who led a protected life and had never been in trouble, was stabbed more than 40 times as she took a shortcut to visit a friend at about 1800 GMT on 18 January, 1993.

The attack was just four days after her 16th birthday.

Her killer has never been found and more than 10 years on, the murder inquiry is still open.

On Friday, a memorial to Claire placed on London Road in Greenhithe, Kent, the road off which the alley led, was vandalised.

Claire's parents Cliff and Lin Tiltman said they were sickened someone had ripped the plaque from a wall - and the act had brought back memories of their daughter's death.

Claire Tiltman
How would the vandals feel if it was their sister or mum or girlfriend who was killed?
Lin Tiltman

Mrs Tiltman, 51, said: "The person who committed the crime - which was 10-and-a-half years ago now - is still out there.

"How would the vandals feel if it was their sister or mum or girlfriend who was killed?

"Are they going to spend the rest of their lives getting their kicks out of destroying things?"

The marble to which the plaque is fixed has been damaged and it may not be possible to repair it, Mr Tiltman said.

"They've ruined the whole thing up there - these morons have desecrated it and I'm so angry, it's unbelievable," he said.

"They will never find out who it was, just like Claire, and I will be sat here for the rest of my life wondering.

Not knowing

"It's the last straw what's happened up there - it's absolutely disgraceful."

Mr Tiltman, 53, said it was the frustration of not knowing who was responsible for Claire's death that had made the past decade so difficult.

Sign for Claire Causeway
A new road in Greenhithe was named in memory of Claire

"You cannot take out your anger on anyone - if I knew who it was it would help," he said.

"Even after 10 years, not knowing what happened to Claire - it's hard."

The memorial was found discarded face down in the street by a passer-by who knew Claire's parents and returned it to them on Friday.

The couple said local feeling about their daughter's murder was still strong - and she is far from forgotten.

Christmas cards

A road opened last year at a retail development in Greenhithe is named Claire Causeway in her memory.

And a bench with a plaque stands in a memorial garden 100 yards from her parents' home in Woodward Terrace, Greenhithe.

Bench in memorial garden, Greenhithe
The local community was touched by the teenager's death

Mr and Mrs Tiltman said the teenager's death had touched the community.

The couple still receive Christmas cards each year from Claire's former teachers and classmates at Dartford Grammar School for Girls, some of whom now have children of their own.

Her last school photograph hangs on the living room wall, next to a plaque given by the fire station where Claire volunteered for her Duke of Edinburgh award.

They are flanked by a picture of Superintendent Owen Taylor, who led the investigation but died in 1997.

The vandalised plaque was put up by Kent Police in 1997 to mark Claire's death and his.

A police spokesman said a group of men had been seen standing around the memorial and kicking it in the early hours.

CCTV footage

Inspector Lynne Bardell, of Kent Police, said the investigation into Claire's murder was regularly reviewed and the attack on her memorial was being taken seriously.

"A detective sergeant has been allocated to oversee the inquiries, which is quite unusual for an offence of this type, because of what it is.

"There will be CCTV footage and fingerprinting to look at and these things take time.

"Obviously we are working with Claire's family as well."


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