Spanish drifter admits sex assaulton UK schoolgirl in French hostel

8th June 2004, Comments 0 comments

RENNES, France, June 8 (AFP) - A 54 year-old Spanish waiter on Tuesday admitted a sexual assault on the British school-girl Caroline Dickinson at a French youth hostel eight years ago, but denied intending to kill her.

RENNES, France, June 8 (AFP) - A 54 year-old Spanish waiter on Tuesday admitted a sexual assault on the British school-girl Caroline Dickinson at a French youth hostel eight years ago, but denied intending to kill her.

"I thought she was breathing. I didn't want to kill her. I had absolutely no intention of killing her. I am not a murderer. I just wanted to caress her," Francisco Arce Montes told the court in Rennes where he is being tried for rape and murder.

Questioned about the events leading to Caroline's death in the Brittany village of Pleine-Fougeres in July 1996, Arce Montes said he broke into the hostel in a state of sexual excitment after being interrupted in a previous assault on an English school-girl at another hostel 25 miles (40 kilometres) away.

"I went into the room. All was dark. I could hardly see anything. With the little light, I saw that there was someone lying on the floor asleep. I lay down beside her. It was a young girl. I was very excited. I wanted to do the same thing I had done at Saint-Lunaire." he said.

"I caressed her, I caressed her sex, and then I masturbated," he said. His testimony in Spanish was translated into French for the court.

Arce Montes, who was extradited in 2001 from the US, faces life in prison if convicted of voluntary homicide, accompanied by rape. In French law the charge of rape can include serious sexual abuse.

Caroline 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.

Speaking in a dull monotone and in answers of only a few words, Arce Montes said he had drunk whisky and taken anti-depressants before attempting a first sexual assault at the hostel of Saint-Lunaire. Caught in the act, he fled and drove to Pleine-Fougeres. "I was in a bad way," he repeated.

There he walked upstairs to the first-floor room where Caroline was asleep.

He admitted putting his hand over her mouth as he abused her, but was unable to say for how long. After he had finished, he left in his car for the port of Cherbourg where he took a ferry to England.

A pathologist on Monday testified that Caroline died of asphyxia as a result of a blockage of her mouth and nose, and that part of a cotton pad was found at the scene. Arce Montes admitted that he was wearing a pad after burning his hand, but denied the charge that he used it to suffocate Caroline.

Described in the prosecution case as a serial abuser of young teenage girls, Arce Montes escaped detection for many years before being arrested after an assault in Miami in March 2001. A chance recognition of his name by a US customs officer on holiday in London led to DNA tests which linked him uncontrovertibly to the scene.

On the second day of his trial at the 17th century Rennes courthouse, Caroline's mother Sue described her as a happy girl, excited at her first trip to a foreign country.

"Her best friend was her sister. I was a bit worried because though she knew all the other girls on the trip she didn't have one really good friend.

So I asked the teacher to keep an eye on her, because she was a bit shy," she said.

Other members of the school-party, now in their early 20s, recalled sightings of a suspicious man at the Pleine-Fougeres hostel around the time of the attack. Amy White said that on the night Caroline died she saw a man with Arce Montes' distinctive bushy eye-brows on the stairs of the building.


© AFP

Subject: French news

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