Extra police brought in to hunt killer of the `perfect schoolgirl'

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The Independent Online
Extra police have been drafted in to the squad hunting the killer of the murdered schoolgirl Nicola Dixon to follow up a large number of responses after a public appeal for information.

New leads the detectives will concentrate on include sightings of the 17-year-old sixth-former before she was sexually assaulted and repeatedly struck on the head as she walked to a pub in Sutton Coldfield town centre in the West Midlands on New Year's Eve. Her body was found face down in the snow in a rectory garden on New Year's Day. From early examinations, police think she had tried to protect herself during the assault.

Chief Superintendent Colin Macdonald, in charge of the murder team, said yesterday: "We have had calls from people who were in the area, some who had sightings of the deceased and some who have actually named people they think may be responsible."

Meanwhile in Scotland another schoolgirl who had been missing from her Ayrshire home since New Year's Eve walked into a police station in Glasgow safe and well.

Lisa Barrow, 15, from Kilmarnock, left home three days ago after telling her parents that she was going to a local shop for a magazine and a CD. Her disappearance had resulted in a full-scale police hunt.

Yesterday, her brother, a 22-year-old soldier who had been serving in the Falkland Islands made a public appeal on behalf of the family for information and for her to come home.

Only three hours after the appeal, and described as looking "hale and hearty", she walked into a police station in Aitkenhead Road in the southside of Glasgow.

The teenager is believed to have spent the past three days with a seller of the Big Issue, the magazine sold for the homeless. She told close friends that the man, believed to be in his early 20s, was her boyfriend.

Her safe return will have brought enormous relief to her Ayrshire home town, which this Christmas was only beginning to come to terms with the abduction and brutal murder last year of the 16-year-old Kilmarnock girl, Mhairi Julyan.

Strathclyde Police said that the teenager would be interviewed by officers in order to establish her movements since Tuesday and check her welfare. Inspector Gordon Mclanaghan, of Kilmarnock police station, said he doubted whether charges would be brought against the man as "nothing untoward had taken place or anything illegal".

"It would have been a very depressing start to the new year if we had any other result other than this one," he said.

In Cheshire, police were continuing their search for another child. Posters are being prepared to be put up around the country for information on Kayleigh Ward, aged nine, from Chester, who has been missing since before Christmas. She is said to have vanished after leaving her home to buy chips.

Described as "streetwise", she lived with her mother and two sisters in a hostel in Chester, but had spent time with tramps near her home.