Schoolgirl killer already had trail of convictions

14th June 2004, Comments 0 comments

RENNES, France, June 14 (AFP) - Francisco Arce Montes, the 54 year-old Spanish man convicted of murdering British schoolgirl Caroline Dickinson in 1996, is a psychologically-troubled loner with a history of assaults on young teenage girls.

RENNES, France, June 14 (AFP) - Francisco Arce Montes, the 54 year-old Spanish man convicted of murdering British schoolgirl Caroline Dickinson in 1996, is a psychologically-troubled loner with a history of assaults on young teenage girls.

During his week long trial in the Brittany capital of Rennes, the court was told that the attack at a youth hostel in the town of Pleine-Fougeres conformed to a long-established pattern in which Arce Montes cased out places where young people were staying before sneaking in at night.

His first convictions for armed rape dated from the mid-1980s in Germany, and he is known to have committed other assaults in France, Spain and the Netherlands - as well as the attack in Miami in 2001 that led to his extradition and trial.

Born in Gijon, northern Spain, in March 1950, Arce Montes was the younger child of a middle-class couple who ran a grocery store.In an interview with investigators which was read out at the trial, he said he had a miserable childhood. "My mother hated me - unlike my father ... Everyone accused me of things," he said.

As a teenager he developed a hygiene obsession, opening doors with the use of a handkerchief for example, and in his early 20s there appeared his first sexual problems. After exposing himself as a neighbour, he was sent to a psychiatrist who diagnosed depression and "progressive schizophrenia."

In the mid-1970s he left Spain and began a rootless existence, working occasionally as a waiter or driver but mainly living off money sent to him by his father. An acquaintance from the time told the court that he "knew all the youth hostels in Europe and spent his time chasing girls."

His first known sexual aggression resulted ironically in a brief romance and the birth of a son. In 1981 Arce Montes broke into the room of a French girl at a hostel in the Netherlands. She told the court that he touched her sexually against her wishes, but later they met up again and had a consenting relationship.

In 1994 Arce Montes was arrested after breaking into a hostel in central France; in 1996 - shortly before the Dickinson murder - he was caught at a hostel in Llanes, northern Spain; and later in August 1997 he was arrested for an armed sex attack - again at Llanes

On the night of Caroline's death he broke into a first youth hostel some 40 kilometres (25 miles) away, where he was caught in the act of a sexual attack on another English girl. Frustrated by his failure, the court heard that he drove to Pleine-Fougeres in search of a new victim.

Arce Montes fled to South America in 1997 after the death of his father, absconding from the Spanish authorities. He next reappeared in Florida four years later, with another of his hallmark attacks. Thanks to an observant US customs officer, his name was recognised and the link made with France.

In court Arce Montes appeared vague and depressed, and his answers were short and uttered in a dull monotone. He admitted everything, except the intention to kill. "I am not a murderer," he told the court. "I just wanted to touch her."

© AFP

Subject: French news

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