Killer hid Celine 'for days'

THE KILLER of Celine Figard, the French student who was found dead near Worcester on Friday, kept her body hidden for several days and may have held her captive for some time before murdering her.

Police said yesterday that the naked body of 19-year-old Celine, who went missing on 19 December, had been in the field by the A449 at Hawford for no longer than 24 hours before it was found.

Detective Chief Superintendent Roger Hoddinott, head of Hampshire CID, said yesterday that Celine had probably been dead for at least four to five days when her body was found, but that it was difficult to establish exactly when she had been killed.

A post mortem examination showed that Celine had been strangled and suffered severe head injuries, although it was not clear which was the cause of death. He said that there were "no obvious signs" that she had been seriously sexually assaulted.

She was last seen accepting a lift from a lorry driver at the Chieveley service area at the junction of the M4 and the A34 near Newbury, Berkshire. Police are increasingly convinced the driver was responsible for murder. Despite massive publicity, he has not come forward to clear himself.

Celine, an accountancy student, got into a white Mercedes truck cab which was pulling a grey trailer with a refrigeration unit. The driver was described as 30 to 35 years old, with short fair hair and possibly a short cropped beard, but no moustache.

Celine was wearing a black jacket, black jeans and ankle-length boots when she disappeared, but no clothing was with her body, which was found by a motorist who stopped in a layby to repair a windscreen wiper.

Bernard Figard, Celine's father, said yesterday that the trip to England to collect his daughter's body would be "the most painful journey of my entire life".

n Police yesterday searched open ground near the nightclub in Yate, near Bristol, where Louise Smith, 18, vanished on Christmas Eve. Louise, a clerical assistant from nearby Chipping Sodbury, was last seen leaving in a car driven by a woman.

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