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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 June, 2004, 13:45 GMT 14:45 UK
Caroline 'was our pride and joy'
John Dickinson
John Dickinson: Caroline had been looking forward to trip
Caroline Dickinson's short life ended in a sickening attack in a dormitory of a French hostel.

The news sent shockwaves through Launceston, her home town in central Cornwall.

There, in the county's ancient capital, she is remembered as a happy and bright girl who made friends easily.

It was on a school trip to France in 1996 with a group of 39 children from Launceston Community College that Caroline, 13, was attacked.

She was the victim of a vicious sex attack by Spanish waiter Francisco Arce Montes who has been found guilty of her murder.

She was every parents pride and joy
John Dickinson
Her father John said: "She was only 13. She would have been 22 in October.

"She was every parents' pride and joy - a typical 13 year old with lots of vitality and a great personality.

"She had a great future ahead of her."

At school, Caroline had been a member of the orchestra, a Brownie and had also taken ballet lessons.

Caroline Dickinson
Caroline Dickinson: Lived with mother in Launceston
"She was a lovely girl, very popular with friends and teachers," said Mr Dickinson, 45.

Mr Dickinson was divorced from Caroline's mother, Sue, 46, several years before Caroline died.

But he saw Caroline and her sister Jenny, 19, who lived with their mother in Launceston, on most weekends.

The food safety officer with North Cornwall District Council has been intimately involved with the case from the beginning of the investigation and criticised its progress in the early stages.

Pressure from Mr Dickinson and his wife led to the replacement in 1997 of the French investigating magistrate.

He said his daughter had been looking forward to the trip to France with excitement.

Database call

"I was hoping she would have a great time," she said.

"Travel broadens the mind and I am very much for young people travelling and getting as much out of different cultures around the world as long as safety is foremost."

He hopes that one of the legacies of the trial will be a global database of DNA, the evidence that proved crucial in the trial of Montes.

Both parents are still angry at the length of time it took to bring Montes to justice.

Mr Dickinson said: "People should not be able to commit a horrendous crime and disappear over an invisible border.

I just hope Caroline will be remembered not simply as a statistic, but for the wonderful girl she was
John Dickinson
"Anyone who has committed a crime should be DNA tested.

"The global village has arrived and DNA testing is an essential tool for police forces.

"Hopefully with improvements in investigative procedures other such tragedies can, if not be prevented, then at least speedily brought to some sort of conclusion."

For now he wants to relax "for the first time in eight years".

"I am living with it," he said.

"People face a lot of tragedy in their lives, but they have to deal with it and everyone does as best they can.

"I just hope Caroline will be remembered not simply as a statistic, but for the wonderful girl she was."

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