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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 June, 2004, 21:23 GMT 22:23 UK
Montes 'assaulted' former lover
Francisco Arce Montes
Francisco Arce Montes denies killing Caroline Dickinson
The former lover of Caroline Dickinson murder suspect Francisco Arce Montes has told a court their relationship began after he sexually assaulted her.

Christine Le Menes gave evidence behind closed doors at the trial in Rennes.

She said she had met Mr Montes when he broke into her hostel bedroom in Holland in 1981 and assaulted her.

Mr Montes, who has denied killing the British schoolgirl in 1996 but has admitted sexual assault, had earlier broken down in tears giving evidence.

Ms Le Menes was allowed to give evidence without Mr Montes or the media's presence as she said she would not have been able to give a true account of the relationship if her former lover had been present.

Differing accounts

Judge Fabienne Doroy relayed Ms Le Menes' evidence to Mr Montes and said it differed from his account of their relationship.

He said: "She said you walked into her room without her permission - the girls' room in a youth hostel in Holland where she was alone.

"She had the feeling you didn't know the place. She didn't know how to react because she was nervous.

I went into Christine Le Menes' room because she allowed me to
Francisco Arce Montes

"You started undoing the zipper on her sleeping bag. You touched her sexually which she didn't want."

Defence lawyer Olivier Dersoir said the judge's summary of her evidence had omitted vital details.

He said: "I think it is essential to mention that on the night in Holland she said she got some pleasure.

"She also said for many years she had remembered the loving feelings she had for Arce Montes."

Earlier, Mr Montes had said their relationship had been his first sexual experience.

"I went into Christine Le Menes' room because she allowed me to," he said.

"If she says the opposite, it's because she read the papers. She might have said I wanted to hurt her but this is her imagination."

Mr Montes said the pair had a child to whom Ms Le Menes denied him access when she moved to Paris after they broke up.

"Christine Le Menes rejected me as a father," he added.

In her testimony, Ms Le Menes confirmed that Mr Montes had not seen his son since 1983.

Caroline Dickinson
Caroline Dickinson was attacked in her hostel room in Pleine-Fougeres

Earlier in the day, Mr Montes had broken down in tears after a statement from his mother was read out in which she said she was "repulsed" by his presence.

He also said he understood what he had done to Caroline's parents and that her family would "never forgive him".

After more intense questioning Mr Montes put his head in his hands and started to cry, at which point the court was briefly adjourned.

Mr and Mrs Dickinson were praised during the day for urging French investigators to use the DNA testing which eventually led police to Mr Montes.

The court heard how Mr Montes' DNA was found to match that found in semen from the scene of the 13-year-old's death.

The case continues.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Jon Kay
"[Montes] sobbed uncontrollably, just feet from the Dickinson family"



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