Man goes on trial for Caroline's murder

The man accused of the savage rape and murder of Cornish schoolgirl Caroline Dickinson admitted today a history of stalking youth hostels across Europe for sex.

The man accused of the savage rape and murder of Cornish schoolgirl Caroline Dickinson admitted today a history of stalking youth hostels across Europe for sex.

Francisco Arce Montes had a preference for girls aged between 12 and 15, the opening day of his trial in Rennes, France, was told by a court official.

Before Caroline's tragic death, he had preyed on children in youth hostels in Britain, Holland, France and Spain.

Earlier on the night Caroline died in an attack lasting less than two minutes, Montes had tried, unsuccessfully, to assault another English girl in a separate youth hostel.

Frustrated by his failure, he drove 12 miles and broke into the hostel where Caroline and 40 other pupils of Launceston College in Cornwall were sleeping.

Caroline died "in tens of seconds and a maximum of two minutes", the court was told.

The full shocking details of the attack were revealed for the first time in aone-hour outline of the prosecution case by the senior court official.

Through it all, Caroline's parents John, 45, and his 46-year-old former wife Sue sat with their other daughter Jenny, 19, listening intently.

Montes, a 54-year-old waiter from Spain, sat blank-faced and seemingly unconcerned as the details of his sexual offences were read out.

Mostly he stared ahead of him across the courtroom, gazing just above the benches where the Dickinsons sat.

Occasionally he fiddled with the ear-piece of the headphones translating the evidence into his native Spanish.

At no time did he react visibly to the grim litany of his activities.When it was over, presiding judge Fabienne Doroy looked across at the defendant and said: "Do you agree with what has been said?"

Montes continued looking blank.

Then after a pause he muttered: "Would you like me to answer? I agree."

The trial is expected to last at least a week in the elaborate gilt-decoratedRennes courtroom.

Montes has been awaiting trial since his arrest in Miami and extradition to France in November 2001.

He is charged with raping and murdering 13-year-old Caroline at a youth hostel in the village of Pleine Fougeres, Brittany, in July 1996.

Caroline was sleeping in a dormitory with fellow pupils when she was attacked in the night and discovered dead in the morning.

Her attacker had broken in without disturbing any of the other sleeping children.For five years French investigation drew a blank.

But Montes, a former lorry driver, was arrested and extradited from America in 2001 after a chance breakthrough.

US customs investigator Tommy Ontko had read about Caroline's murder and the unsuccessful hunt for the killer in a British newspaper.

He made the connection to a Spanish man arrested for a similar attack in Miami.

Montes was extradited after a DNA sample linked him to the murder scene in the Breton village.He has a string of convictions for sex offences.

In 1974 he was arrested for indecently exposing himself to two women in his home town of Gijon.

In 1980 he was convicted of indecency in Bremen, Germany, and nine years later was jailed for five and a half years for attempted rape in that country.

Multilingual Montes worked as a waiter in London between 1993 and 1997 but made trips across the Channel to France.

In 1994 he was held by French police after twice breaking into a schoolgirl's hostel room.But he was let off with a caution.

Two years later he allegedly raped and murdered Caroline.

In August, 1997, Montes was charged with the attempted rape of a 19-year-old Spanish holidaymaker in Llanes, Spain.

He was released on bail but fled to Florida.

Montes was arrested in Miami Beach in late 2000 after breaking into a hostel there, and was charged with trespass but freed.

In March, 2001, he was arrested for another sex crime and that enabled Mr Ontko to make the link.

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

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower