`Hostel was not locked' when girl was killed
Thursday 18 November 1999
Sue Dickinson, from Launceston, Cornwall, is suing Cornwall County Council following the murder of her daughter, Caroline, who was asphyxiated while staying in Brittany in 1996 as part of a school trip. If Mrs Dickinson is successful in her claim she will receive pounds 22,578 in damages.
On the first day of the civil claim, the High Court in Plymouth was told that the two external doors to the hostel were unlocked on the night Caroline died.
Caroline was murdered in a bedroom, which she was sharing with other four girls, by an unidentified intruder while at the hostel in Pleine Fougeres on 18 July 1996. She was among a party of 40 pupils, aged between 10 and 14, supervised by teachers from Launceston Community College.
Stephen Killalea, representing Mrs Dickinson, told the court that the teenager's bedroom was on the first floor of the hostel, directly above the front door.
Speaking publicly for the first time about her daughter's murder, Mrs Dickinson said in a statement given to the court that she was "horrified" to hear about the lack of security.
Before the outing Mrs Dickinson met Liz Barker, a teacher who was responsible for the trip. "[Mrs Barker] said that it was small and friendly and she knew the people who ran the hostel from her previous visits," Mrs Dickinson said.
"Nothing was asked about the security or how the hostel had been chosen. I simply assumed, as I think most people did, that the accommodation would be suitable for school groups and secure."
Mrs Dickinson said that Caroline, who was studying French and was "very independent and bright", had paid for part of the holiday herself.
She left on a coach on 14 July and later that day telephoned home, describing the hostel as "crappy".
Mrs Dickinson said: "I feel that they [the school] failed to carry out any appropriate checks to ensure the suitability of the accommodation for a group of schoolchildren. As a direct result an intruder was able to walk into the accommodation without any challenge and murder my daughter.
"I cannot understand why young children were allowed to sleep in a totally unsecured and unlocked building with unlocked bedrooms.
"Even if the building could not be locked at night, which I do not accept, it beggars belief that the bedroom doors were not locked."
Mrs Barker, who fainted in court after giving evidence, described in a statement how Caroline's body was discovered on the morning of 18 July. Two girls knocked on her door and asked if she could go and see Caroline "as they couldn't wake her and she was a funny colour".
Mrs Barker said the intruder could have "easily" climbed the outside of the building and entered through the bedroom window.
Timothy Kerr, for Cornwall County Council, said every aspect of the arrangements for the trip had been completed competently and diligently.
Also in court was Mrs Dickinson's former husband, John, from Bodmin, Cornwall, who is not a party to the civil action.
The case continues.
Oscar Pistorius trial: Defence's own witness contradicts athlete's version of events
Oscar Pistorius trial: The case against Oscar Pistorius – and why the prosecution claims his story doesn't add up
South Korea ferry: Captain Lee Joon-seok could face criminal investigation as over 280 remain missing
Peaches Geldof dead: Private funeral for the family and friends of the socialite will take place next week
Shropshire criminals ‘using unmanned drones and infrared cameras to find illegal cannabis farms’ – and then steal from the growers
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
US Navy christens huge $3 billion destroyer ship USS Zumwalt that appears as a fishing boat on enemy radar
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
Nigel Farage on Have I Got News For You: Ukip leader ridiculed over expenses and party 'fruitcakes'
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
- 1 Poveglia: 'World's most haunted island' up for sale...is anyone brave enough to buy it?
- 2 The Hobbit: There and Back Again set for possible title change
- 3 Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'
- 4 24 people applied for the 'world's toughest job', here are their interviews
- 5 Andre Johnson: Wu-Tang Clan-discovered rapper severed his penis and jumped from LA building
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...
£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...