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Ashleigh Hall death: Man in court

A homeless man will appear in court today charged with the manslaughter and kidnap of a teenage girl whose body was found in a field.

Ashleigh Hall, 17, of Warwick Square, Darlington, was found on Monday night near a roadside restaurant in Sedgefield, County Durham.

Durham Police said a 32-year-old man of no fixed abode was charged over her death, and also with an offence of failing to notify a new address as required for sex offenders under the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

He will appear at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates Court in County Durham.

The suspect, who has not been named by Durham Police, was arrested on Monday over a minor motoring offence and subsequently quizzed about Ashleigh's death.

Her body was found later that night near a Little Chef restaurant, close to the junction of the A689 and A177.

Ashleigh left her home on Sunday evening after telling her mother she was staying overnight at a friend's house.

Becoming increasingly concerned for her daughter's welfare, her mother started ringing her mobile to find out where she was on Monday lunchtime, but the calls were never answered.

Ashleigh was a student at Hurworth School in Darlington, and she left last year after completing her GCSEs.

Eamonn Farrar, chief executive at the school, last night described his astonishment and grief at the news of the teenager's death.

He said: "I'm absolutely stunned. I heard it on the news and thought it couldn't be our Ashleigh, but then the news came through to my colleague.

"I just can't believe it.

"She was the nicest kid in the universe, you'd never meet a nicer kid."

He offered his condolences and those on behalf of the school community to the teenager's family and said when staff and pupils returned after the half-term break they would try to remember Ashleigh "not in terms of her passing, but as a student at Hurworth, and one we were all fond of.

"She was a lovely, lovely kid."