'Find monster who did this terrible deed'

Murder in North Wales; Parents appeal after brutal killings of three children
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The Independent Online
JAMES CUSICK

It was a car journey of only 80 miles, from Winsford in Cheshire to Llandudno, North Wales. But for the couple travelling to where their seven- year-old daughter was sexually assaulted and murdered on Saturday night, the journey was almost unbearable.

Christopher and Julie Hook, the parents of Sophie Hook, appealed at a news conference yesterday for help to find the "monster" who had assaulted and strangled their little girl.

A distraught, Mr Hook, aged 37, pleaded: "Julie and I want to make a heartfelt appeal to anyone who may know anything, however small the detail, which may help the police find the monster who did this terrible deed to our beloved Sophie."

His wife, fighting to hold back emotion and tears, tried to express her loss. "Sophie was, and always will be to us, a vivacious, fun-loving, extremely popular, beautiful, intelligent child."

They were speaking only 24 hours after their daughter's naked body had been found on a holiday beach, just half a mile from the garden of her uncle's house where she had been sleeping out in a tent with her sister and her cousin, both aged nine.

Throughout the appeal for help, Mr Hook, an advertising sales manager, held tightly to his wife's hand. Mrs Hook, 34, spoke of the joy that Sophie had brought to them and her two sisters and brother.

"No child could have received or given more love to us, to her brother and to her two sisters and all her family and friends who will all miss her very dearly. We do need to find the person responsible for this deed. He must be brought to justice for Sophie's sake and for all our sakes," she said.

There was pain in the effort she took to deliver the plea, but evident determination that she should deliver her message.

Both parents yesterday afternoon also faced the ordeal of having to return to the house at Llandudno where their daughter had last slept.

As they did so, police appealed for witnesses to help fill in the seven- hour gap from midnight on Saturday night to 7.15am on Sunday morning when a man out walking his dog found Sophie's body on the beach.

A police officer will talk to Jemma, Sophie's elder sister, to discover what time she may have left the tent they were sharing. No information has emerged as to whether Sophie was lured from the tent or may have wandered off on her own.

Last night police continued to question a man held in custody in Rhyl. Another man was released last night from custody in Llandundno.

Police were also conducting house-to-house inquiries and continued searches for the "Pooh Bear'' nightdress Sophie was wearing.

During the day officers had patrolled the busy beach area, checking on whether holidaymakers may have noticed anything suspicious over the last few days. Last night, the pathway at the back of Sophie's uncle's house, from which she was snatched, remained sealed off.

Detective Superintendent Eric Jones, of the murder inquiry team, said: "Whoever was responsible for this crime is a very dangerous man, a brute who must be caught - quickly."

He described the assault as "horrifying" and the worst he had seen in 25 years' service.

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