Caroline Dickinson's murderer's appeal rejected

28th June 2005, Comments 0 comments

SAINT-BRIEUC, France, June 28 (AFP) - A French appeal court on Tuesday upheld the 30-year prison sentence handed down a year ago to the Spanish killer of British schoolgirl Caroline Dickinson.

SAINT-BRIEUC, France, June 28 (AFP) - A French appeal court on Tuesday upheld the 30-year prison sentence handed down a year ago to the Spanish killer of British schoolgirl Caroline Dickinson.

The court in the western French town of Saint-Brieuc also confirmed the recommendation that Francisco Arce Montes, 55, serve at least 20 years of the term.

A drifter with a series of convictions for sexual offences, Arce Montes was found guilty in June 2004 of the rape and murder of the 13-year-old, who was smothered to death in a Brittany youth hostel in July 1996.

The state prosecutor at the appeal had asked the court to increase the sentence to life imprisonment.

Arce Montes issued a last-minute plea for clemency shortly before the jury retired to consider its verdict.

"At my age (a long term in jail) is a death sentence. It means 'Die in prison because that is what you deserve,'" he said.

"I want to be cured. I want someone to make me better. I want to get my life back on the rails. I want an ordinary life like you. Don't sentence me to destruction," he said.

He then turned to the parents of Caroline and said in Spanish and English, "I am sorry."

Arce Montes has always admitted killing the schoolgirl, but said it was an accident that occurred while he was sexually assaulting her. He launched the appeal against the advice of his legal team, which feared it could lead to a tougher sentence.

Caroline's father John Dickinson expressed anger that the appeal had been allowed to proceed despite the lack of any new evidence likely to alter the decision of the lower court.

"It has seemed as if the offender's rights have overshadowed those of the victims. We came expecting to hear his grounds for appeal but none appears to have been offered," he said after the verdict.

"It may be that the automatic right to appeal which Montes exercised is something that should be reviewed.

"The suffering has not been restricted to the family but also extends to all the British witnesses, particularly the girls -- now young women -- who have had to face this evil man again," he said.

Under French law anyone convicted of a crime has the right to an appeal, which takes the form of a re-trial with a new judge and jury.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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