Father is questioned after girl's body found

Police have been given more time to question the father of a 19-year-old woman whose skeletal remains were found in woodland in a seaside town.

The man, 45, was held on suspicion of murder after medical records were used to establish that the remains were those of Victoria Couchman. Detectives were granted a further 36 hours, until 11.22pm tonight, to question their suspect as a thorough search was carried out in Redgeland Wood in the Queensway area of Hastings, East Sussex.

Inspector Becky Newman said yesterday: "Police investigating the discovery of human remains found in Redgeland Wood believe they have established the identity of the victim. From medical records, it is believed she was Victoria Couchman, 19 years of age, from an address in the local area."

Children playing in the wood, near the Wishing Tree Reservoir, found a human skull last Monday. Further forensic searches revealed other remains, including a pelvic bone, upper left leg and tibia, which were discovered near each other and did not appear to be buried.

A spokeswoman for Sussex Police said: "From what we have uncovered so far, Victoria Couchman was never reported as a missing person, nor is she on any missing persons' register. We have never had any previous suspects, so we consider ourselves to be at the very start point of the investigations. We are also unable to ascertain the length of period she had not been seen."

On Friday, police said about 90 per cent of the skeleton had been recovered and the bones were degraded. Initially, investigators wrongly believed the remains had been in the wood for up to 10 years. Details of how Miss Couchman died are still uncertain. Detective Chief Inspector Adam Hibbert, leading the investigation, said: "This is a significant breakthrough in this enquiry. It is is now vital for us to establish how Victoria died and came to be in Redgeland Wood."

One piece of information under consideration is that her upper left leg had been broken and surgically pinned.

Local inspector Heather Keating said: "This is a tragedy for the family and we will be working with them and the wider community to establish what happened."

She appealed for anyone with further information to come forward, and said high-visibility police patrols would be in the area to reassure residents.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Parker says: 'I once had a taster use the phrase 'smells like the sex glands of a lemming'. Who in the world can relate to that?'
food + drinkRobert Parker's 100-point scale is a benchmark of achievement for wine-makers everywhere
News
i100
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing