Man still being questioned over murder of girl

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The Independent Online
Detectives investigating the murder of seven-year-old Sophie Hook were last night granted a further extension to hold a man for questioning until today.

He was arrested on Sunday after the discovery of the child's naked body on a beach half a mile from the garden of the house in the North Wales resort of Llandudno, where she had been camping out overnight. She had been sexually assaulted and strangled.

The local man appeared before magistrates at Llandudno for the second time in two days and a police application for a warrant to hold him at Llandudno police station was granted, a North Wales police spokeswoman said.

It is thought police may want to hold the man while they investigate leads from the hundreds of phone calls from the public about the murder.

It is believed they are also awaiting the results of forensic tests on items from the house where she had been staying, and the murder scene. The child's underwear has been recovered and sent for forensic tests, but her nightshirt, with a Pooh Bear motif, has yet to be found.

Meanwhile, her parents Julie, 34, and Christopher, 37, who come from Budworth Heath, Cheshire, yesterday visited the stretch of beach where she was found. They saw the shrine of flowers built up by local people and took cards left by well-wishers.

"The public support has been a great help to them in coming to terms with their tragedy," said Inspector Loraine Johnson, who is in charge of the team offering the families support as they struggle to come to terms with the killing. "They would like to thank all the members of the public for their help and sympathy and urge them to give all help possible to bring the murderer to justice."

Sophie and her nine-year-old sister Jemma had been visiting her cousin Luke on his ninth birthday. His parents Danny and Fiona Jones had bought him the tent in which the children were camping as a present.They agreed to let the three children camp out, but Luke went back inside the house at about midnight, prompting Mr Jones to check on the remaining two youngsters.

That was the last time Sophie was seen alive. A man walking his dog on the beach found her body on Sunday morning. It is still unclear if Sophie wandered away from the garden of her own accord, perhaps for a paddle, or was lured or snatched by the killer.

The children of both families know that Sophie, whose body was found on a beach half-a-mile from the garden, is dead. "All the children know that Sophie has gone to heaven," said Inspector Johnson. "Jemma is aware that her sister has died. Jemma is a very bright little girl. It is quite obvious she is traumatised."

"The family are a very close family, they are gaining support from one another but self blame is a natural process of grief - all members feel they are in some way blameworthy," Insp Johnson added.