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 They were looking for one dead girl, but found another

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PostSubject: They were looking for one dead girl, but found another   Fri Oct 24, 2008 3:39 pm

Published Date:
15 November 2007
By LINDSAY MCINTOSH

THE body of missing Scots teenager Vicky Hamilton has been found buried in a garden hundreds of miles from her home - 16 years after she vanished.
Police confirmed last night that remains uncovered in a sandpit in a garden in Margate, Kent, were those of the girl.

The house was once occupied by Peter Tobin, 61, who was charged in connection with Vicky's disappearance in July this year. He is expected to appear in private from custody at Linlithgow Sheriff Court today.

Vicky was 15 when she went missing after getting off a bus in Bathgate on 10 February, 1991.

Detectives who uncovered her body on Monday had been investigating the disappearance of another teenager, Dinah McNicol, from Essex, who vanished on her way home from a music festival in Hampshire.

Last night a spokesman for Essex Police confirmed that forensics experts would continue to investigate the home and garden as they believed her body could still be found there.

Detective Superintendent Tim Wills said: "We had reasons to come here. Those reasons still exist. We came here for Dinah. And we haven't yet finished.

"There is a chance she is here. In fairness to the family we need to fully answer the question as to whether she was here at any time."

The body and the personal effects found in the sandpit were confirmed as those of Vicky at a press conference yesterday.

Her disappearance has been one of Scotland's most enduring mysteries, although her parents, Michael and Jannette, said soon after she went missing that they believed she was dead.

She was last seen eating chips on a bench in Bathgate. She had caught a bus from Livingston, where she had been visiting her sister, and was planning to get a connection to her home in Redding, near Falkirk.

She had asked for directions to the bus stop, but never made the journey. He purse was later discovered near St Andrew Square bus station in Edinburgh.

A fresh investigation into her death was launched earlier this year and police north of the Border have searched another property, where they found Vicky's DNA.

At Michael Hamilton's home in Westquarter, Falkirk, last night, Vicky's 19-year-old half-brother Michael said his father was too upset to speak.

A police spokesman said: "Lothian and Borders Police can confirm that the body found in the house in Margate, Kent, on 12 November is that of Vicky Hamilton. A man has been arrested in July 2007 and charged in connection with the disappearance of Vicky Hamilton and a report submitted to the procurator-fiscal."

Tobin, an odd-job man, exchanged council houses with Hannah Hewitson, 48, in 1991, when he moved to her old home in Margate, and she to his house in Bathgate.

He lived in the three-bedroomed terraced property between March 1991 and December 1991. The property was targeted as part of an exercise conducted by Steve Watts, the Assistant Chief Constable of Hampshire Police, on behalf of the Association of Chief Police Officers' homicide working group.

"He has written to all 43 police forces in England and Wales asking them to assist in that piece of work," a Hampshire Police spokeswoman said.

After Vicky's remains were identified, Mary Mulligan, MSP for Linlithgow, which includes Bathgate, said: "This is very distressing news, but maybe now Vicky's family can get some closure and an opportunity to lay her body to rest. All our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends.

"I commend the police both here in Lothian and Borders and in other parts of Scotland and England. Their determination to resolve Vicky Hamilton's disappearance has brought about this announcement today."

Miss McNicol's family said there was a common bond of sadness between them and Vicky's family. Ian McNicol, 68, of Tillingham, said he thought his daughter could still be at the house in Margate.

He said: "I know the police have said it's not Dinah's remains they found but I still think she could be there.

"They are going to continue to rip up the garden; it won't be the end of the search.

"I'm a bit upset it's not Dinah they found. We were hoping to get to the end so we could grieve. Now the wait goes on. I just want to pass on my condolences to the family of the girl they have found. Our families have an affinity because of what we've been through and I know how they must be feeling."

A series of high-profile appeals failed to shed any light on Miss McNicol's disappearance. She was last seen alone in a car with an unknown man on the M25 in Surrey. Police think she hitched a lift after leaving the festival. Withdrawals of cash were made from her building society account at cash machines in Hampshire and Sussex.

The investigation was relaunched last week and a tip-off had led officers to the house in the seaside town of Margate.

• A lorry driver convicted of a woman's murder in Lanarkshire 30 years ago was yesterday granted the right to appeal. Thomas Young was jailed for life for the killing of bakery worker Frances Barker in 1977.

House torn apart as search goes on

FORENSIC officers yesterday continued to tear apart Peter Tobin's former home, as police pledged not to leave until they were satisfied there were no more bodies buried there.

Detectives had targeted the council house at 50 Irvine Drive, Margate, in the belief it could be concealing the remains of Dinah McNicol, who vanished after a music festival in 1991.

Instead they uncovered the body of Vicky Hamilton, the Scots 15-year-old who disappeared the same year.

Forensic officers were ripping up floorboards and peeling back wallpaper yesterday in a hunt for additional evidence that will take "a number of days".

Detective Superintendent Tim Wills of Essex Police said: "I will not leave the house until I am satisfied that there are not any other human remains at this site.

"We came here to search for the remains of Dinah McNicol or any physical evidence which might link her disappearance to the house and that is what we will continue to do."

He said once ground-level work was completed, there would be a deeper search involving radar.
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