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Murdered student 'had been celebrating Olympic job'

A 23-year-old student was found murdered in a field after celebrating with friends at a going away party, detectives said.

Finnish-born Sara Marie Cameron, an international sports management student, had been due to leave for a work placement with the Sydney Olympics Committee in the next few days.

Her naked body was discovered on Good Friday morning, 100 yards from her shared flat in the quiet Tyneside village of Earsdon, near Whitley Bay.

Detectives, who fear she may have been the victim of a sex attack, would say only that she died of asphyxiation.

A keen schoolgirl athlete who had trials to represent her country at hurdling, Sara was in the second year of her degree at Northumbria University in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

She was looking forward to working in Australia with the Sydney Olympics Committee when she was killed.

A spokesman for Northumbria University said: "We are shocked at Sara's death. She was a fit and healthy young woman who was a very popular member of the university community.

"We are all very saddened by her death and we would like to express our sincere sorrow to her family at this time."

Police said Sara spent her last known hours on Thursday evening with friends at the Quilted Camel pub in Newcastle's Quayside area.

She moved on to the nearby Crown Posada public house on Dean Street, before telling friends she was heading home at about 11.10pm and is thought to have headed for the Monument Metro Station in the city centre.

Her body was found by a couple walking their dog the next morning, close to a busy dual carriageway near to her house.

Northumbria Police said some of her clothing and other items had been found in the grounds of South Wellfield Middle School, several hundred yards from where Sara's body was found an area popular with walkers.

She was described as 5ft 7in tall, of medium build, with short, blonde spiked hair.

When last seen Sara was wearing black combat-type trousers, black ankle-length boots and a black, waist-length collarless, bomber-type jacket made of shiny leather-look material.

She had a brown sturdy handbag and was carrying a purple plastic presentation bag containing presents given to her by her friends.

Detective Superintendent Steve Bolam, leading the inquiry, said: "We are now starting to build up a clearer picture of Sara's movements in the hours leading up to her death, but we still need to speak to anyone who thinks they may be able to help the investigation."

He appealed for anyone who may have seen Sara on the Metro or walking from Shiremoor Metro Station near her home to come forward.

Sara had worked part time in the gym at Newcastle College and at a bar in Whitley Bay. Friends and fellow students today left floral tributes at her flat.

Colleagues at the Time bar where she had worked said they were too upset to talk about her death. One young man described her as "a good friend and good fun".

Sara, whose mother is Finnish and her father British, came over to study in England two years ago.

Earlier Mr Bolam said: "Obviously she met her death by some violence and that violence caused her to be asphyxiated.

"But I think it is important not to reveal how she died because the person who has killed her knows how they did it, and I want that person to tell me."

Mr Bolam said he was looking at the possibility that she got off at Shiremoor Metro station to walk home along the A186, a distance of about a mile.

He said: "There is no doubt that she was an industrious person and a person who was confident and who had a full life to lead," he said.

"One of the things we are trying to establish is what was the motive for her dying.

"Clearly we have a 23-year-old naked woman which raised a sexual motive and that is one of the lines we are looking at."

Police officers were today still at the scene, carrying out a fingertip search.

It is not known yet whether the attack took place where the body was found or whether it had been dumped there.

Police warned other young women in the area to be on their guard until the attacker was caught.