Police 'slow' to attend call about dead girl

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ONE OF the last people to see Caroline Hogg alive told Newcastle Crown Court yesterday that police had taken more than an hour to respond to a call telling them of the return of a man who two weeks earlier had been seen talking to the girl shortly before she vanished, writes Malcolm Pithers.

Laura McPherson, now 27, was working as a cashier in an amusement arcade near Edinburgh when Caroline Hogg disappeared in July 1983. Caroline, who was five, was sexually assaulted and murdered. Her body was found 11 days later at Twycross in Leicestershire. She was kidnapped in the same way as Susan Maxwell, 11, a year earlier and Sarah Harper, 10, near to her home in Morley, Leeds, in March 1986.

Robert Black, who was 47 yesterday, faces 10 charges relating to their kidnap and murder, and of kidnapping Teresa Thornhill, who was 15 when she was abducted in Radford, Nottinghamshire, in April 1988. He denies all the charges.

Mrs McPherson said that on 8 July 1983 she had been working in the arcade and had seen Caroline sitting alone near some railings on the local promenade. About half an hour later, she saw the girl talking to a scruffy man, and laughing.

About two weeks later she saw the same man in the amusement arcade. She told her manager who called the police. Asked by Mohn Milford QC, for the prosecution, whether it was correct that it had taken the police an hour to respond to the call, she agreed it had.

The trial continues today.