DNA tests fail to trap killer

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The Independent Online
DNA testing on 169 men from a French village has failed to trap the killer of Caroline Dickinson, the British girl who was raped and murdered during a school trip last year.

Police, who have come under increasing pressure to catch the killer, said yesterday that they intend to test even more men from Pleine Fougeres as they extend their inquiries to surrounding villages in northern France.

The negative results came as both a disappointment to Caroline's family and as a relief to the villagers, who have been living in a climate of suspicion.

The men, tested during a three-day period last week, were aged between 15 and 35; the age range will now be extended to include men up to 50 years old.

Caroline, 13, was killed at a youth hostel in Pleine Fougeres during a trip organised by her school from Launceston, Cornwall. Her father, John, a local authority environmental health officer from Bodmin, said his family was grateful to the population of Pleine Fougeres.

The family had been critical of the original French investigation which appeared to grind to a halt following the high profile arrest and then release of a vagrant picked up in the first hours after the killing.

However, since the case was handed over to a new investigating magistrate, Judge Renaud van Ruymeke, during the summer, there has been an increase in activity in the case.

"We would like to thank all the inhabitants of Pleine Fougeres for their co-operation in taking part [in the testing], and hope the next wave of tests in November will be similarly supported," said Mr Dickinson.

"It is vitally important in our minds to remove the veil of suspicion from the village so equally important lines of inquiry can be examined.

"We do not feel downhearted at the negative results. We feel confident that with the determined efforts of Judge Renaud van Ruymbeke and the revitalised investigation team, the culprit will be caught in due course."