Fury as suspect is charged with schoolgirl's murder

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The Independent Online

The family of a schoolgir whose remains were found in the back garden of a house in Margate this week, said they felt they were coming towards the end of a "long road" as they watched the man accused of her murder attend court yesterday. Amid emotional and angry scenes, Vicky Hamilton's father, Michael, walked slowly in front of the prison van carrying Peter Tobin to Linlithgow Sheriff Court, while people shouted abuse.

Tobin, 61, was charged with the murder of 15-year-old Vicky, who disappeared 16 years ago in Bathgate, West Lothian, close to where he was living at the time. Yesterday's court session was held in private, but a spokesman for the Crown Office said afterwards: "He made no plea or declaration. He was continued for further examination and he remains in custody."

Before Tobin arrived at court, traffic was stopped as Mr Hamilton, accompanied by a police officer, walked in front of the van transporting the accused.

Vicky's remains were identified on Wednesday after forensic tests. Detectives had been searching the Margate property for another girl, Dinah McNicol, 18, from Tillingham, Essex, who went missing 13 years ago after attending a pop festival.

Outside the court in Linlithgow, Vicky's uncle, Eric Hamilton, read out a statement in which he said her father was "happy that the long road is nearly at an end". He added: "All we are wanting to do is to have peace, and to get on with putting Vicky where she belongs."

There were further angry scenes when Tobin left the court after the session. A furious Mr Hamilton had to be restrained by police as the man accused of his daughter's murder was led into a prison van. His brother, Peter Hamilton, lunged forward and shouted at the suspect before hitting the back of the van.

Vickywas last seen alive in February 1991, eating a bag of chips at a bus stop in Bathgate while waiting for a bus to take her to her home in Redding, near Falkirk.

Her disappearance led to one of Scotland's biggest missing person inquiries and the case was reopened in November last year as a murder investigation. Her mother, Janette, died in 1993 without knowing her daughter's fate.

Detective Superintendent Tim Wills, of Essex police, told a press conference at Margate yesterday: "I do not intend to leave the house until I'm fully satisfied that there are not any other human remains at that site."

Det Supt Wills said that once the ground-level search had been completed, a "deep search" would begin, which could take a number of days.