Caroline murder accused breaks down in court

10th June 2004, Comments 0 comments

RENNES, France, June 10 (AFP) - A Spanish drifter accused of raping and murdering a British schoolgirl eight years ago broke down in tears during his trial in this western French city Thursday after experts testified that DNA evidence against him was damning.

RENNES, France, June 10 (AFP) - A Spanish drifter accused of raping and murdering a British schoolgirl eight years ago broke down in tears during his trial in this western French city Thursday after experts testified that DNA evidence against him was damning.

The chief judge called a 20-minute pause in proceedings to give Francisco Arce Montes, 54, time to recover his composure.

"I want to excuse these tears in this room where I am not the victim," Arce Montes said when he was brought back to the defendant's stall.

During his trial this week, the Spaniard admitted sexually assaulting 13-year-old Caroline Dickinson as she was sleeping in a French youth hostel with schoolmates in July 1996, but he denied intending to kill her.

Dickinson was found smothered to death on her mattress in the room she shared with four school-friends on their trip to northwest France. Her genitalia had suffered severe trauma, and there was semen on her thigh and on her pyjama shorts which had been removed.

Arce Montes faces life in prison if convicted of voluntary homicide accompanied by rape. His trial is expected to run to at least Friday.

On Thursday, the court heard from two genetics experts who said the DNA samples taken from Dickinson's body perfectly matched those from Arce Montes.

The experts, Marie-Helene Cherpin and Olivier Pascal, had been involved in the mass testing of males in the region around the hostel following the murder in a search for Dickinson's killer.

Although 425 men were tested, Arce Montes managed to escape the dragnet and remained at large for years.

When a US customs officer visiting France in 2001 on vacation noticed a resemblance between the suspect sought in the Dickinson case and that of a Spaniard -- Arce Montes -- arrested in April that year in the US city of Miami following a sexual assault, a DNA test was ordered that provided a match.

Arce Montes was extradited to France that year after US authorities dropped the lesser charges against him to facilitate his murder trial.

© AFP

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article