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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 June, 2005, 13:46 GMT 14:46 UK
Witness 'heard Caroline call mum'
Caroline Dickinson
Caroline was on her first trip away from home
A young woman has broken down in court as she told how she heard Cornish schoolgirl Caroline Dickinson calling out "mum" on the night she was killed.

Caroline, 13, was on a school trip from Cornwall in 1996 when she was raped and killed in Pleine Fougeres, Brittany.

Ann Jasper, 22, was testifying in St Brieuc where Francisco Arce Montes, who admits killing Caroline, is appealing against his conviction for her murder.

Ms Jasper was sleeping in the same room as Caroline when she was attacked.

I thought she was hot or having a bad dream or something
Melissa Hutchings
Speaking on the third day of the appeal at La Cour d'Assises Ms Jasper, who is speaking publicly for the first time, said: "I could hear Caroline mumbling 'mum' and 'help' or something like that.

"I could see her wriggling in bed but I thought she was dreaming and I went back to sleep."

She said she had been woken up in the middle of the night by the sound of banging.

"It was something banging against the wall," she said, "I thought it was a bottle top hitting the wall," Ms Jasper added.

Earlier, the court heard from Melissa Hutchings, 22, also giving evidence for the first time in court.

She was sleeping on the bottom of a bunk bed next to where Caroline was lying on a mattress, so she could stay with her friends.

Student Ms Hutchings broke down in tears as she told how she was woken by the sound of Caroline coughing and wheezing in the middle of the night and a sleeping bag zip being undone.

"It sounded like somebody was having difficulty breathing and these noises went on for a couple of minutes," she said.

"I didn't take much notice. I thought she was hot or having a bad dream or something."

Francisco Arce Montes
Montes refused to look at photographs of Caroline's body

She also said she saw a figure standing up in the room shortly after but assumed it was Caroline and went back to sleep.

Both girls described how everyone in the room had woken up the next morning by 0800 except Caroline.

Ms Hutchings said they gave their friend a few extra minutes in bed then they tried to wake her by shaking her and calling her name.

"She looked blue and was very cold to touch," she said. "I grabbed hold of her sleeping bag and flipped it over to wake her and I could see she wasn't wearing pyjama bottoms."

The girls then rushed to get help and were told to leave the room when their teachers arrived.

Teacher's 'shock'

Earlier Elizabeth Baker, the teacher who organised the trip for the group of students aged between 12 and 17, said she was shocked at finding Caroline, who died of asphyxiation, unconscious after she was called to help.

"I was very shocked," she said. "This was a girl who last night was fit and well and laughing and now she was unconscious."

The former waiter from Gijon in northern Spain was jailed for 30 years last June for the murder and rape of Caroline but is appealing against his conviction - an automatic right in France.

Caroline was on her first trip away from home with 40 students from Launceston Community College when she was killed.

Montes, who declined to give evidence at the first trial, told the court that he had attacked Caroline but had not meant to kill her and when he left her room he did not think she was dead.

The case continues.


SEE ALSO:
Family hears of Caroline's death
22 Jun 05 |  Cornwall
Waiter admits Caroline's killing
21 Jun 05 |  Cornwall
June retrial for Caroline killer
17 Jan 05 |  Cornwall
Caroline's killer in retrial bid
23 Jun 04 |  In Depth


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