Girl found safe 'may have met older man'

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The Independent Online

A girl of 16 who went missing for 48 hours and caused a major police hunt may have been with an older man she met on the internet. Up to 100 police hunted for Kirsty Chapman after she failed to return to her grandparents' house in Plymouth, Devon, after walking the dog on Thursday afternoon.

Relatives feared she had been abducted, after the poodle was found wandering with the lead trailing, but she was discovered safe late on Saturday. Police said Kirsty, a public services student at Duchy College in Callington, Cornwall, used internet chat rooms and part of their inquiry was focused on who she contacted.

Her maternal grandmother Carol Gregory, 58, with whom Kirsty was staying, said yesterday she had no idea that she was meeting people over the web and called online chat rooms a "bloody nuisance". Mrs Gregory added: "She is at a gullible age. Where she lives is very quiet, a little hamlet. There is nothing out there for her at that age. It still hasn't hit me. I just can't believe she's back. It was hell, complete hell, and I felt guilty because she was here staying with me."

She said Kirsty would not normally go out on her own. "She's a beautiful girl, very shy; she's always got a smile."

Neither Kirsty's parents nor grandparents have internet access so she used the computers at her college. She was interviewed yesterday by police.

Kirsty lives in Coad's Green, near Launceston, Cornwall, with her parents Louise, 35, and Jason, 36, and sisters Roxan, 14, Charmain, nine, and Jade, two.