Body in quarry identified as missing woman

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The body of a young woman found in a disused quarry near Bristol was formally identified yesterday as that of Louise Smith, 18, who vanished on Christmas Day.

Louise's parents, Robert and Gillian Smith, had been warned on Saturday that the naked body found by two schoolboys on a cliff edge at Barnhill quarry, a mile from their home in Chipping Sodbury, near Bristol, was probably their daughter.

Hopes that the teenager might be found alive had been gradually fading since she disappeared after a party at Spirals nightclub in nearby Yate, having declined a taxi ride home with friends.

It took police several hours on Sunday to remove the body from its hiding place, among trees and shrubs, on a dangerous slope above the 100ft cliff face on Sunday.

Yesterday's post-mortem examination did not establish the cause of death as the body is decomposed and had been disturbed by foxes.

Detective Superintendent John Newman, the officer leading the murder hunt, said yesterday: "We would like to assure all the people living in and around Chipping Sodbury that the team are determined to do their best for Louise and her family in resolving what happened."

Asked why the police had not found the body during a search of the area, he said: "The body was found in an area that we were prevented from getting to for health and safety reasons. It was just too precarious."

He said that Louise's handbag had been found nearby together with a number of personal possessions and other items.

Officers have begun a fingertip search of a taped-off area close to the quarry edge. A number of areas were marked by numbered yellow squares and a team of officers cleared nearby scrubland to give better access. It is expected that the intensive search will continue all week.