Anger at police handling of hunt for murdered girl: Distraught mother criticises officers as arrested neighbour is charged

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The Independent Online
RELATIVES and neighbours of the murdered three-year- old Rosie Palmer yesterday criticised police for their handling of the four-day search for the girl, whose body was found in a flat near her home on Sunday evening.

A 32-year-old man will appear before magistrates in Hartlepool today, charged with her murder. Police found her body in the first- floor flat in Frederic Street, just yards from her home in Henrietta Street, after a search involving 80 officers and more than 100 volunteers.

Rosie's mother, Beverley, immediately accused police of failing to investigate the man. She claimed she had asked them to do so, but they had visited the wrong house.

Mrs Palmer said: 'They know about it. They have known about it and have not done their job. They have known and not done their job. They have taken their money and done nothing.'

Later, she rushed out of the house again and started talking in front of the television cameras. She said: 'The pathologist has been there and had my daughter since last night and they say they don't know how she died or when she died. They are talking a load of rubbish. I am a trained midwife and I know. They are terrified to release it.'

Joan Coull, a neighbour who sometimes acted as a babysitter for Rosie when her mother was working on nightshifts, said: 'When we saw the police arresting the man from the flat we said: 'Surely it isn't him after all the times we asked you to look in there?' '

It emerged yesterday that, shortly before her disappearance, Rosie had been playing with two other children in a backyard close to the flat where her body was found. When the other two children went home, Rosie stayed on to play with a dog owned by her grandmother, who also lives near by.

Det Supt Doug Smith said last night that as a man was in custody he could not comment on the criticisms. Rosie's father, Martin, 34, who is separated from Mrs Palmer and lives in Bristol, was called in to help identify the body. After spending several hours with his former wife, he said: 'I don't know what he has done to her, I just hope it was quick.'

The family doctor, Hameed Khan, who visited the house to give Mrs Palmer sedatives, said afterwards: 'I have seen the mother. She is in a shocked state. She is coping as well as she can.'

Rosie's grandfather, Wilf Aves, said the distress of residents was immeasurable. Bunches of flowers and cuddly toys, placed by children and their parents, last night formed a colourful mound outside Mrs Palmer's house.