Police allow Rosie's mother to see body

THE MOTHER of Rosie Palmer was allowed to see her daughter's body in a mortuary in Hartlepool yesterday, after bereavement experts persuaded police that it would be damaging to continue to prevent her from doing so.

Mrs Palmer had criticised the police for failing to find her daughter in time - her body was found in a flat 20 yards from her home - and for refusing to let her see the body after it was found on Sunday. Police said they were trying to save her further distress because the body was decomposing.

After leaving the mortuary, Mrs Palmer said: 'I saw my daughter because I wanted her to know that mummy still loves her.'

The death of the three-year-old, who was last seen buying an ice lolly from an ice cream van last Thursday, has caused great anger in the local community. Relatives and neighbours have echoed Mrs Palmer's complaint about why it took three days to find the body, and they are also pressing for information on the council's policy over how flats are allocated on the estate.

One tenant, Maureen O'Hara, said: 'Our children are going to be prisoners in their homes because we will not dare let them out.'

However, police disclosed last night that detectives were still trying to establish where Rosie met her death. Local people were particularly critical after it emerged that police had searched the flat twice before the body was found. Last night's disclosure suggests the body may not have been at the flat at the time. The town's Labour MP, Peter Mandelson, visited the estate yesterday and said local people would have a firm opportunity to express their concerns.

Mr Mandelson added that he had met the officer who led the inquiry into Rosie's disappearance, and was satisfied that 'there were no shortcomings in the approach which the police took'.

Shaun Anthony Armstrong, 32, of Frederic Street, Hartlepool, Cleveland, was remanded in custody yesterday, accused of murdering Rosie Palmer. Initially, Mr Armstrong was due to appear before Hartlepool magistrates again on 1 August, but the date was moved forward two days after Wilf Aves, 66, the girl's grandfather, told the court the date was inappropriate as it would have been the child's fourth birthday.

(Photograph omitted)