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Father's grief at murder

THE father of Stacey Queripel, the seven-year-old Berkshire girl who was strangled, spoke yesterday of his grief at discovering that his daughter had not died by accident but was murdered, writes Jason Bennetto.

Stephen Norton, 28, said: 'I am devastated. You never think that it is going to happen to one of your own. I would not want another family to go through what Gill's (Stacey's mother) family and me and my family are going through at the moment. We are all numb.'

Police had believed that Stacey was throttled by her necklace becoming entangled in undergrowth after she ran away from her mother's flat in Ladybank on the Birch Hill estate in Bracknell last Sunday night. Her body was found hours after her disappearance. An initial examination suggested death was accidental, but further tests on Friday showed Stacey had been strangled.

The police last night defended the way they had handled the inquiry so far. Det Insp Martin Sawyer said that, because of a 'nagging worry', they had asked the Home Office pathologist to carry out Friday's second examination.