DNA test rules out Caroline suspect

THE HUNT for the killer of Caroline Dickinson, the schoolgirl who was murdered in France more than two years ago, has suffered yet another setback after a DNA test cleared a suspect yesterday.

The latest development adds to the growing number of false leads and blunders in an investigation that appears to be no nearer catching Caroline's killer, despite two separate inquiries by the French authorities over the past 29 months.

Yesterday's disappointment involved a homeless man in his 30s who was arrested in Marseille on Wednesday after he was said to bear a resemblance to a photofit of the suspected killer reissued last month.

But the French police announced yesterday that a DNA sample from the man had proved a negative match and that he had been released.

He was arrested a week after it was revealed that detectives investigating 13-year-old Caroline's murder were examining possible links with the rape of a teenage girl in eastern France three years earlier. The girl told police that a photofit of the suspect in the Caroline investigation bore a resemblance to the man who had raped her at knife-point in Nancy in May 1993.

The rape victim described her attacker as a "caveman", with long dark hair covering his ears, a broad forehead, flat nose and bushy eyebrows.

Caroline was raped and suffocated with a pillow on 18 July 1996 in the room she was sharing with four schoolfriends at a youth hostel in Pleine Fougeres in Brittany while on a trip from Launceston College in Cornwall.

The possible link emerged after police investigating Caroline's murder issued a photofit of an unshaven, bushy-browed man with long, untidy hair. It was based on sightings of a man near the hostel.

In a separate development, French police are still investigating a claim that an Englishman resembled the artist's impression of the suspected killer. Pierre Rabin, an undertaker in Calais, told police that the picture is similar to a customer who called in at his funeral parlour in the town in 1995, a year before Caroline's death. He gave police a photocopy of the man's passport.

Despite this possible sighting, the French investigation appears to be making slow progress. Two days after the murder, the police arrested a man in connection with the killing. The investigating magistrate later declared the case closed, saying Patrice Pade, 41, had confessed.

But DNA testing proved him innocent too and the French authorities were later forced to pay damages of Fr10,000 (about pounds 1,000) for false imprisonment.

Over the next few months the murder hunt was dogged by a succession of blunders. DNA tests were ignored until too late because they were considered "too expensive", potentially vital witness statements were missed because they had not been translated into French, and door-to-door inquiries in and around Pleine Fougeres were barred for fear of "disturbing the local community".

After complaints by Caroline's parents the investigating magistrate was replaced, in August last year, by judge Renaud Van Ruymbeck. Since then more than 2,000 DNA tests have been done.

Police have also been searching for a French man who told tourists in the Republic of Ireland in July that he had fled his home country and could not return.

Despite the failure to catch the man who killed his daughter, Caroline's father, John Dickinson, 42, said yesterday: "I am sure it will be through one of these new leads that there will be a major breakthrough.

"I do not have any negative criticisms to make about the police any more, the new team are doing a sterling job and are really determined to catch Caroline's killer."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
Sport
Jonny Evans and Papiss Cisse come together
football
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The beat is on: Alfred Doda, Gjevat Kelmendi and Orli Shuka in ‘Hyena’
filmReview: Hyena takes corruption and sleaziness to a truly epic level
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Assistant / Credit Controller

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are an award-winning digit...

Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis