Friend of murdered girl heard scream, court told

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The Independent Online

The best friend of Vicky Hall, the schoolgirl who was killed while walking home from a nightclub in Felixstowe, told a jury yesterday that she heard two high-pitched screams minutes after they parted.

Gemma Algar, 19, tearfully recounted their last moments together before her friend was snatched, suffocated and driven 25 miles where she was left, naked, in a ditch.

Miss Algar said she heard the screams within three minutes of the pair saying goodbye and going their separate ways. She thought it was just "somebody messing about", she told Norwich Crown Court.

Miss Hall, 17, disappeared near her home at Trimley St Mary, Suffolk, in the early hours of 19 September 1999, after spending the evening in the Bandbox nightclub.

The court was told Miss Hall was found dead five days later in a field 25 miles away from her home. Adrian Bradshaw, 27, a businessman who runs a freesheet newspaper in Felixstowe, denies murder.

Miss Algar said that she had known the "happy and caring" Miss Hall for three years and they had been pupils together at Orwell High School, near Felixstowe. Miss Hall was studying for her A-levels, took ballet and jazz dance classes, and also worked part-time in a lingerie shop. "I spoke to her every day. If I didn't see her I would speak to her on the telephone," Miss Algar told the jury of seven men and five women.

"She was caring. She always had a smile on her face. She was always there for you if you needed someone to talk to, always made time for you."

They left the nightclub at about 1am and stopped to buy chips before parting at 2.20am, Miss Algar said. The prosecution has alleged that Mr Bradshaw was at the same nightclub and had lied about his whereabouts at the time Miss Hall vanished.

It claims Mr Bradshaw got out of a taxi a few yards from where the pair separated. He allegedly accosted the sixth- former as she walked down the alley, abducted and drove her off in his Porsche.

Mud found on the accelerator pedal of his car bore a "remarkable similarity" to soil at the spot where Miss Hall's body was found, the jury was told last week.

It is alleged that the distinctive "throaty" sound of his car's exhaust was heard when Miss Hall disappeared.

She was eventually found by a man walking his dog along a track near Creeting St Peter, Suffolk. Post-mortem tests showed she had died within two hours of being abducted.

The trial continues today.