Thursday, October 21, 1999 Published at 13:13 GMT 14:13 UK
Student death 'could be murder'
Isabel Peake: "Popular and had a lot of friends"
A British student found dead next to a railway line in France could have been pushed out of a moving train, police have confirmed.
They are investigating the possibility that 20-year-old Isabel Peake, from Barlaston, Staffordshire, was murdered.
Her body was found in the village of Chabenet, near Limoges, on 13 October lying by the rails of the main Limoges-Paris route. But it took five days to identify her by her personal effects.
A spokesman for Bourges Gendarmerie, which is investigating the death, said: "We are working on three hypotheses, one, that it was an accident; two that it was suicide; and three that it was criminal."
"We are working on the theory she was pushed from the train, because it is almost impossible to fall from one."
A Foreign Office spokesman confirmed the dead woman's identity but stressed the cause of death was unknown.
Her parents, Brian and Annie Peake, both 48-year-old linguists, are expected to make the journey from Staffordshire to Chateauroux to meet the investigating magistrate.
They and her 18-year-old sister Jane, were comforted by friends and relatives at their home near the village of Barlaston.
Pc Andy Walker, who is liaising with the family on behalf of French police, said relatives were devastated by news of the tragedy.
A spokesman for Staffordshire police said: "We understand Isabel was a student at Limoges University and shared a flat with two French girls."
The officer said the law student was understood to have been taking a five-year course at Birmingham University and was studying in Limoges as part of the third year of her degree.
She had been there just two weeks when she decided to return to visit her boyfriend, the officer said.
"She was a happy-go-lucky young lady and she was coming home," he said.
In a statement from Birmingham University, where Miss Peake had studied, spokesman Frank Albrighton, said: "She was very popular and had a lot of friends. This is especially sad for those in her department who she knew well."
Guild of Students president Matt Gorman said: "On behalf of the student union I would like to extend our sincere condolences to Isabel's family at this time."