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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 June, 2005, 01:33 GMT 02:33 UK
Caroline's family await retrial
Francisco Arce Montes
Montes had a history of attacking woman across Europe and the USA
The father of Caroline Dickinson, the girl raped and murdered during a school trip to Brittany, says he is "in limbo" as he awaits her killer's appeal.

Spaniard Francisco Arce Montes, 54, faces a retrial on 21 June, just over a year after being convicted and jailed for 30 years for the 1996 murder.

John Dickinson, 49, said he felt "trepidation" ahead of the appeal.

He said it was a "tragedy" the family of the 13-year-old, from Cornwall, "had to go through this again".

Montes, from Gijon, raped and murdered Caroline in the early hours of 18 July 1996 while she slept in a youth hostel dormitory.

It is about justice for Caroline, and nothing else matters
John Dickinson

She was sharing the room in Pleine Fougeres, Brittany, with four other girls and had been among a party of 41 youngsters from Launceston Community College on an activity holiday.

Montes was jailed after a six-day trial at a court in Rennes, Brittany, in June last year but the French justice system allows everyone an automatic right to an appeal, which takes the form of a retrial.

If he loses his appeal he could be handed a longer sentence.

Mr Dickinson, who has described his "devastation" when he heard there would be an appeal, said: "We have had a year to prepare ourselves, but nevertheless it is a tragedy that we had to go through this again. But we are ready for it."

Caroline's 47-year-old mother Sue, a nurse from Launceston, and her younger sister Jenny, now 20, will also attend court for the appeal hearing.

Caroline Dickinson
Caroline was murdered as she slept on the floor in a hostel

Mr Dickinson, who is a local authority environmental health officer, said he had felt "in limbo" since the appeal was announced because it had prevented his family from putting the ordeal behind them.

"It is about justice for Caroline, and nothing else matters," he said.

"The main thing is we have the man in prison serving a sentence. We are just hoping once and for all with this retrial we can all get on with our lives."

During the trial it emerged that Montes had attacked woman across Europe and the US over a number of years.

He was eventually captured as a result of an observant US immigration officer.

Detroit airport-based Tommy Ontko put the Spaniard's details into a database after seeing him named by French authorities in a week-old UK newspaper as a suspect in the Caroline case.

DNA database

Just three weeks before, Montes had been arrested in Miami, Florida, for breaking into a youth hostel and committing a lewd act in a female dormitory.

Mr Ontko called Interpol and the police in Brittany.

It soon emerged that Montes was under arrest in Miami, and, after DNA tests, he was extradited to stand trial in France.

Mr Dickinson called for a global DNA database after the original trial, to prevent "border-hopping" rapists and murderers from being able to "simply disappear" from one country to another.


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