Murdered girl's mother tells of shock at daughter's killing

Roxanne Lawrence: I can't explain why Stacey died at hands of man she called dad
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A woman whose partner strangled her nine-year-old daughter before taking his own life has spoken for the first time about the tragedy.

Stacey Lawrence's body was found behind drawn curtains in the cab of a lorry which had been parked off the A605 near Warmington, Northamptonshire, on Saturday afternoon. Darren Walker, 40, was found hanged from a tree in nearby woodland shortly afterwards.

Police said yesterday that Walker may have sexually assaulted Stacey before killing her. They also revealed that he had been accused of assaulting his former wife in 2006, whom he was divorcing. But yesterday Stacey's mother, Roxanne, said that she had had no concerns about her daughter accompanying Walker, whom she had been seeing for the past 18 months.

"I'm trying to be angry with him but I'm finding it really difficult because I loved him," she said.

"It shocked all of us because he was such a lovely family guy. He has just shocked everyone, we never dreamed he would do anything like that.

"She used to call him Dad. I've been wracking my brains. He never ever went upstairs to her bedroom, he never gave us any reason to even contemplate that he could do something like that.

"He didn't have a temper. I can honestly say I never saw it, he never raised his voice at the children or at me."

Speaking at a press conference at police headquarters, Detective Chief Inspector Tricia Kirk said that a physical examination had found some evidence of possible sexual touching but no sign of a further sexual assault. "We would like nothing more than to be able to give the family a clear picture into what has gone on," she said.

"The tests we are doing we are hoping may give us a clearer indication. But we may never know exactly what happened in that lorry."

Ms Kirk said at the press conference that Walker and Stacey appeared to have arrived at the lay-by in Warmington just after 3.35pm on Friday, after making deliveries to Spar stores across Norfolk.

She said they were then spotted leaving the lorry to use a toilet at the services. They ate a meal of macaroni cheese and Stacey's mother last heard from Walker some time between 7.30pm and 8pm that night, leaving no indication of what was to occur. She had even heard Stacey's voice in the background, as Stacey had been watching a television show that she particularly liked.