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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 June, 2005, 11:50 GMT 12:50 UK
Parents' long fight for justice
Sue and John Dickinson
The Dickinson's took their campaign to the UK government
Since receiving the horrific news of their daughter's murder, John and Sue Dickinson have fought to keep the hunt for her killer on track.

Caroline Dickinson, 13, was attacked and murdered at a hostel in July 1996, while on a school trip to Brittany.

Her killer remained at large until 2001 and was not brought to trial for a further three years.

During that time, Caroline's father made numerous trips to France in the quest for justice.

After an initial flurry of activity in the case, which included DNA testing of 2,000 men in France and England, the trail went cold.

Caroline Dickinson
A court found Caroline's school had acted responsibly on the fateful trip
Within a year of the murder, pressure from the Dickinsons led to the replacement of the judge leading the murder hunt.

But as the number of investigators fell from 50 to an eventual low of three officers, John Dickinson took his fight to the UK Government which, in February 1999, urged the French to investigate the deaths of British nationals more thoroughly.

Mr Dickinson made a number of appeals for information on French television, but by the second anniversary of the murder the hunt had crossed to the Republic of Ireland.

A man matching the photofit description of a suspect was seen in County Galway, but an increasingly frustrated Mr Dickinson criticised the Irish police for not following up the lead as rigorously as he would have liked.

He said at the time: "(It) fills me with almost disbelief that something as simple as showing a photofit... around the hostels in that part of Ireland hasn't been done. It's staggering."

Francisco Arce Montes
People should not be able to commit a horrendous crime and disappear over an invisible border
John Dickinson, Caroline's father

Meanwhile, Sue Dickinson turned her attention to an ultimately unsuccessful civil claim against Cornwall County Council over the supervision of the school trip.

She told the first trial of Montes last year: "I entrusted the care of my daughter to the school and I feel they owed Caroline a duty of care."

In October 2000, Mr Dickinson, who maintained DNA evidence held the key to solving the case, made his 18th trip to France.

He said: "It is our concern that Caroline will become a statistic - an unsolved murder. We refuse to accept that possibility."

Five months later, in March 2001, the breakthrough came, but not in France.

Spaniard Francisco Arce Montes was arrested in Florida and his DNA matched that of Caroline's killer.

Mr Dickinson reiterated his desire to see a global DNA database established.

"People should not be able to commit a horrendous crime and disappear over an invisible border," he said.

'Significant role'

"Anyone who has committed a crime should be DNA tested."

The Dickinsons' perseverance over DNA testing was praised in court during Montes' first trial in Brittany.

Their lawyer Herve Rouzaud-Leboeuf said through their determination, they played "a significant role" in bringing the case to court.

Throughout their long campaign, the family have said they wanted to see an improvement in the way murders are investigated.

Caroline's father summed this up by saying: "Nothing can bring back our dear Caroline, but everything should be done to prevent such a nightmare being visited on another family."




SEE ALSO:
Caroline killer's appeal rejected
28 Jun 05 |  Cornwall
Timeline: Dickinson inquiry
28 Jun 05 |  Europe


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