Page last updated at 16:05 GMT, Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Man in court over girl's killing

Ashleigh Hall
Ashleigh was last seen alive on Sunday night

A man has appeared in court charged with the manslaughter and kidnap of a teenage girl found dead in a field.

Peter Chapman, 32, of no fixed address, is accused of killing Ashleigh Hall, 17, from Darlington, whose body was found in County Durham on Monday night.

Before magistrates in Newton Aycliffe, he was also charged with not notifying police of a new address, as he must under the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

Post-mortem tests into Ashleigh's death were inconclusive, Durham Police said.

Mr Chapman was remanded in custody to appear at Teesside Crown Court on 3 November.

'Honest and caring'

Ashleigh, of Warwick Square, Darlington, was found dead in a farmer's field close to the Little Chef roundabout, off the A689 and A177 roads, near Sedgefield.

Results of a post-mortem examination to try to establish the cause of death were inconclusive and further tests will be conducted, police said.

In a tribute released through Durham Constabulary, her mother Andrea said: "No one can imagine the hurt and devastation that has hit our family.

"Ashleigh was loving, honest, caring and well-liked. Everybody loved her. She was a person who brought light into the lives of others.

"To have Ashleigh taken from us in such circumstances is beyond belief and I don't want other families to suffer what we are going through.

"Tell your kids to be careful on the internet.

Scene of the body find near Sedgefield
Ashleigh's body was found in a field close to two roads.

"Don't meet someone without telling your family where you are going.

"Don't trust anybody and don't put your children on Facebook or other sites if they are under age.

"We have learned a terrible lesson. All we ask now is that people help the police in any way they can.

"We don't want any other child to be a victim."

The former student at Hurworth School in Darlington was described as a "lovely, lovely kid" by its chief executive Eamonn Farrar.

He said: "I'm absolutely stunned. I heard it on the news and thought it couldn't be our Ashleigh, but then the news came through to my colleague.

"I just can't believe it.

"She was the nicest kid in the universe, you'd never meet a nicer kid.

"She'd always have a smile for you walking down the corridor, she was very polite and no trouble at all."

Ashleigh was last seen alive on Sunday night, when she told her family she was going to stay with a friend.

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