Family of murdered girl endured '17-year living nightmare'

The older sister of murdered schoolgirl Vicky Hamilton told a court yesterday that her family had lived a "17-year-long nightmare". At times close to tears, Sharon Brown, 37, recalled the last time she saw her sister alive in 1991.

Ms Brown, who now has two children, told the High Court in Dundee the pair hugged each other tightly before Vicky got on a bus home after a weekend with her sister. She said the 15-year-old was unsure of the route back to her mother's house and had been "really nervous" about the journey on Sunday 10 February, the day she is alleged to have been abducted and murdered.

Peter Tobin, 62, is on trial accused of abducting the teenager, taking her to his home, then in Bathgate, West Lothian, drugging her, indecently assaulting her and murdering her.

He is also accused of attempting to defeat the ends of justice and charged with concealing Vicky's body, cutting it in two, and transporting and burying the parts. Mr Tobin denies all the charges and has lodged a special defence of alibi, saying he was in the Portsmouth area and travelling to Scotland when the schoolgirl vanished.

Ms Brown told the court how she was "absolutely delighted" to have the teenager come to stay with her for the first time at her flat in Livingston, West Lothian. She said they spent the evening of Friday 8 February and the following day together. They chatted, shopped and socialised, said Ms Brown, then Vicky packed her bags to return to her mother's house in Redding, near Falkirk. The schoolgirl was keen to get back to see a music awards ceremony on television on the Sunday evening, Ms Brown told the court.

She said she went with Vicky to a bus-stop near her flats. The pair made plans for Vicky to return to Livingston the following week, the witness said. "We hugged each other really tightly," Ms Brown said. "Vicky didn't know where she was going. She asked me to repeat and repeat and repeat where she would get off the bus and get on the next bus. She was really unsure."

Ms Brown said she asked the bus-driver to tell her sister where she should get off. "She was really, really nervous about the journey," she said. "That's the last time I ever saw her."

Solicitor General Frank Mulholland QC, for the prosecution, asked Ms Brown about the effect of Vicky's disappearance on her family. "It's been a 17-year-long nightmare," she replied.

The trial continues.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test