Girl's killer might never be found, coroner says: 'Beyond belief' that mother murdered her, inquest is told

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THE mother of a seven-year- old girl discovered strangled in woodland gave her sister the strong impression that she had killed her daughter, who had a history of irritating disobedience, an inquest was told yesterday.

Gilliane Queripel, 34, whose daughter, Stacey, was found dead after she disappeared from the family home, told her younger sister, Denise Money: 'I could have done it,' as they discussed who could have been responsible.

Evidence given at the hearing in Windsor, Berkshire, also said that Mrs Queripel had in a rage grabbed Stacey around the neck, squeezing her until she turned blue in the face. Mrs Queripel was initially arrested on suspicion of murder and questioned at length, but was released. No one has been charged, but the inquiry is continuing.

The East Berkshire coroner, Robert Wilson, recorded a verdict of unlawful killing but said it was 'beyond belief' that Mrs Queripel had killed Stacey. However, he conceded that without fresh evidence the murderer might never be found.

Stacey's body was found by a police dog handler after she was reported missing from the council flat at Birch Hill, Bracknell, in Berkshire, where she lived with her mother and two-year-old half- sister Lynette.

Post-mortem examinations revealed she had been strangled by her green plastic necklace. But Dr Richard Shepherd, a Home Office pathologist, concluded she had probably been killed elsewhere before being left in the woods because her shoes were clean even though the ground was muddy.

On the night of her death, 24 January 1993, Stacey had been missing from the flat for several hours. It was often used by men to come and go as they chose to smoke cannabis. Statements from several of the men said Mrs Queripel claimed that, after saying the children were all right in their beds, she was going to have a bath. But 30 minutes later she told them that Stacey was missing, and by this time she had changed her clothes and had muddy feet.

Evidence from Barry Queripel, her former husband told of the stormy relationship between the mother and her older daughter. He told how Mrs Queripel was often 'wound up' by Stacey and could not cope with the children. 'Stacey would see how far she could push Gill until she smacked her.'