Body of girl, 14, found in pit a mile from her home

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POLICE in Norfolk launched a murder hunt yesterday after the partly clothed body of a 14-year- old girl was found in a water-filled pit about a mile from her home.

Johanna Young was last seen at a fish and chip shop in Watton, between Thetford and Dereham, two days before Christmas. Her body was discovered on Saturday night after a man walking his dog found her training shoes in a hedgerow about 400 yards from the pit.

A post-mortem examination concluded that Johanna's death was caused by drowning accompanied by a severe head injury.

Her father Robert Young said the past few days had been 'hell'. He believed she had no enemies. 'She was such a friendly happy girl. The last time I saw her she was bubbly and full of life.'

Detective Superintendent Michael Cole, leading the inquiry, told a press conference that she might have been sexually assaulted, although there was no evidence of rape.

Johanna's underclothes were discovered in the road near the 7ft pit, situated in a muddy cul-de-sac frequented by courting couples. Det Supt Cole said that her jeans were missing. Her body was recovered by police divers.

A policewoman was in a critical condition in hospital last night after being stabbed in the stomach. She had intervened in a dispute between a taxi-driver and his fare in the Wavertree area of Liverpool when she was stabbed twice in the left arm and once in the abdomen.

The attacker was arrested and the woman taken to the Royal Liverpool Hospital where surgeons immediately operated.

Elsewhere, a 31-year-old man cut his own throat after strangling his mother at a mobile home at Beaconham Park, Upchurch, Kent on Christmas Eve.

A police spokesman said that a post mortem examination concluded that Audrey Clark, 71, had died of suffocation and pressure to the throat and her son, Innes, from self-inflicted wounds to the throat.

No one was being sought in connection with the deaths.

On the Isle of Wight, David Mangon, 24, of no fixed address, is due to appear before magistrates today charged with the murder of John Savva, the manager of the Metropole Hotel in Ventnor, who died after an incident on Boxing Day night. Disturbances occurred in Eastleigh, Hampshire, early yesterday when rival gangs numbering up to 30 began fighting after extended opening hours at the Royal Mail pub and the Home Tavern in Upper Market Street.

A police sergeant and police constable were attacked as they tried to arrest the main trouble makers.

In Swindon, Wiltshire, there was a brawl involving more than 100 people who were on their way home from town centre pubs.