Inquest is told tent girl was strangled

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The Independent Online
The schoolgirl Sophie Hook died of asphyxia after being manually strangled, an inquest heard yesterday. A Home Office pathologist, Dr Donald Waite, told the hearing at Bangor, Gwynedd, that he carried out a post-mortem examination on the seven-year-old girl after her body was found on a beach at Llandudno on 30 July.

Dr Waite said: "I visited the scene at 9am on 30 July and saw the body of Sophie Hook lying on a deeply sloping beach covered by stones of various sizes, lying below the high water mark. There were obviously a number of injuries to the child. I arranged to carry out a post-mortem examination at 11.30 that morning at the mortuary at Gwynedd Hospital."

He said his full findings were in a report which had been sent to the coroner and added: "In my opinion this child died as a result of asphyxia due to manual strangulation. A second post-mortem has now been carried out and confirms that cause of death. That was carried out yesterday."

Sophie disappeared while camping overnight in a tent in the back garden of her uncle's Llandudno home.

The coroner's officer, WPC Lise Goss, said that Sophie's parents, Christopher and Julie Hook, had identified their daughter's body at the hospital mortuary in her presence that afternoon.

The child's parents were not present at the hearing.

The coroner, Dewi Pritchard-Jones, said there was now no reason why the body could not be released for the funeral in her home village in Cheshire tomorrow.

He formally adjourned the inquest, explaining: "A Crown Court trial will be the inquiry into the death of the deceased and therefore there will be no resumption of the inquest as long as there is a trial.

"If there is no trial it will come back to me and there will be a full inquest."

t Howard Hughes, 30,of Colwyn Bay, has been charged with murdering Sophie. Mr Hughes is due to face Llandudno magistrates for the second time on 30 August.

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