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Monday, 27 May, 2002, 12:52 GMT 13:52 UK
Backpacker murder hunt goes on
Shirine Harburn
Shirine Harburn loved travelling, her family say
Police have promised to continue the hunt for the killer of a British woman who was murdered while backpacking in China.

Shirine Harburn was stabbed 17 times in the chest with an eight-inch knife while trekking near the town of Kangding, in the Sichuan region in May 2000.

The body of the 30-year-old from Crawley in West Sussex was found by a team of Chinese officers at the end of a trail of blood on nearby Paomao Hill.


The Chinese felt they had a tremendous responsibility to solve a crime in which a foreigner had come to their country and met with such a terrible fate

Det Supt Chris Gillings

An inquest in Crawley has recorded a verdict of unlawful killing and coroner Roger Stone told her family the search for the person responsible was far from over.

Sussex police said they were helping the Chinese police with the search for the killer by testing clothing belonging to the murdered woman, who was a trained counsellor, for traces of DNA.

Detective Superintendent Chris Gillings, who recently returned from China, said he wanted to reassure Miss Harburn's family that everything that could be done would be.

He added that detectives would use the latest technology to find the murderer and that 26 officers had remained on the inquiry.

"The Chinese felt they had a tremendous responsibility to solve a crime in which a foreigner had come to their country and met with such a terrible fate," he said.

He said the job of the Chinese police was made harder as the town's population was increased at the time of the murder because a local festival was taking place.

Miss Harburn had separated from her boyfriend Colin Horsfield, now 29, on the day of her death.

He decided to take photographs, while she continued to walk further up the mountain.

Mr Horsfield raised the alarm when Miss Harburn failed to return to their hotel later in the day.

Police believe the killer was a stranger to Miss Harburn. There is no evidence that she had been sexually assaulted.

After the inquest, Miss Harburn's mother thanked police for laying flowers at the spot where her daughter was murdered.

"I plan to go and see where it happened. I would feel incomplete if I didn't," she said.


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15 May 00 | UK
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