Page last updated at 13:34 GMT, Saturday, 6 June 2009 14:34 UK

Mother's horror at Kercher murder

Meredith Kercher
Meredith Kercher was found dead two months into her studies in Italy

The mother of murdered exchange student Meredith Kercher has said she will never get over the shock and brutality of her daughter's death.

Arline Kercher, 63, told an Italian court she desperately missed and "still looked for" the 21-year-old.

Prosecutors say Ms Kercher, from Coulsdon, Surrey, was killed in a violent sex attack in Perugia in 2007.

Italian Raffaele Sollecito, 24, and his ex-girlfriend, American Amanda Knox, 21, deny murder.

Mrs Kercher, who was accompanied by her husband John, described her daughter as a "conscientious" student.

It is such a shock to send your child to school and for them to not come back - we will never, never get over it
Arline Kercher

"Her death was unbelievable, unreal. In many ways it still is. I still look for her," Mrs Kercher told the court.

"It's not just the death, but the nature of it, the brutality of it, the violence.

"It is such a shock to send your child to school and for them to not come back. We will never, never get over it."

Last phone call

Meredith Kercher, a Leeds University student, had been studying and living in the Umbrian university city of Perugia when she was killed on 1 November 2007.

She shared a house with Ms Knox, who was on a student exchange from Seattle's University of Washington.

Ms Kercher's body was discovered in the bedroom of the house on 2 November. Her throat had been cut.

Addressing the court on Saturday, Mrs Kercher described the last telephone conversation she had with her daughter, who was planning a trip back to Britain for her mother's birthday.

"She rang to let me know when she was coming back," Mrs Kercher said.

"She said she was really tired because they had been out for Halloween the night before and they had come back very late and she was going to see some friends to see a film."

She added: "She was coming back early - she had an essay to finish."

"Strong person"

Mr Kercher told the court that his fears for his daughter were first aroused when his wife called to him say a student had been murdered in Perugia.

After making several failed attempts to call his daughter, he said he finally discovered that the victim was Ms Kercher after contacting the foreign desk of a British newspaper he worked for.

Mr Kercher described his daughter, who had taken karate and boxing lessons, as "a very strong person."

"Although she wasn't an expert in it (karate), I think she could have put up quite a fight," he told the court.

Mr Kercher added that his daughter "loved Perugia" and "was always on about the chocolate festival".

Both of Ms Kercher's parents joined the trial as civil plaintiffs, and testified at the request of their lawyer.

Last year a third person, Rudy Guede, was convicted of the killing and sentenced to 30 years in prison. He had admitted to being in the house at the time of the murder but denied any wrongdoing.

His lawyer Walter Biscotti, representing Guede - who is 22 and from Ivory Coast - announced on Friday that his appeal hearing would begin on 18 November.

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