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Aftermath of a tragic night

PUBLISHED: 18:40 21 November 2001 | UPDATED: 10:53 03 March 2010

THOSE living along the "revellers' route" through Felixstowe and Trimley say the murder of Vicky Hall has certainly changed the party atmosphere.

Before the terrible and tragic events of September 19, 1999, most Friday and Saturday nights saw dozens, sometimes hundreds, of youngsters walking about late at night and in the early hours.

THOSE living along the "revellers' route" through Felixstowe and Trimley say the murder of Vicky Hall has certainly changed the party atmosphere.

Before the terrible and tragic events of September 19, 1999, most Friday and Saturday nights saw dozens, sometimes hundreds, of youngsters walking about late at night and in the early hours.

People could hear them, too.

Screaming and shouting, banging on front doors, running through gardens as they chased each other, chattering loudly, slamming car doors, in high spirits and high on drink.

It was the sound of teenagers who had had a good night out in the pubs and clubs on Felixstowe seafront, making their way home, still full of energy, fuelled by adrenaline and the joy of being young.

It was not vandalism, it was just thoughtlessness for those sleeping soundly in their beds.

It annoyed some people, but most had done it in their youth and the sounds on the night air came and went as fleetingly as the kids walking home to bed.

In fact, it was so common and a part of the weekends that when Vicky screamed as she was dragged into a car, no-one even noticed – screaming was usually just people having fun, not an abduction or attack.

But immediately after Vicky was murdered, and even now, residents on the Farmlands estate and High Road in Trimley St Mary, and in the streets leading from the seafront through Felixstowe to Walton, say it's much quieter.

Diane and John Poole, of Faulkeners Way, said the atmosphere had certainly changed.

"It is much quieter now, even at weekends. You don't hear the youngsters so much or see them about. It's been like that ever since Vicky," said Diane.

"I think everyone was just so shocked by what happened and in a community like this it is difficult to forget. So many people knew her."

The couple found themselves inadvertently caught up in the tragic events. Because they live opposite the point where Vicky was last seen, the police sited their mobile police station in the layby outside their house and, in turn, people chose their front lawn to lay their flowers in memory of the teenager.

"It was quite strange. We have a window overlooking the grass there but we had to put curtains up because we didn't want to intrude. The police also kept coming in and out to use our bathroom. We felt right caught up in the middle of it all and it was quite a strain," she said.

Felixstowe cab company, Coastal Taxis, say the situation is "exactly back to how it was before" September 1999.

Company boss Mike Stokell, said: "For the first few weeks after Vicky's death everyone was taking taxis home and no-one was walking.

"But I suppose time heals and the memory is no longer so close to the events. Gradually people started walking home again, first in groups and then in pairs. Now it is not unusual at 2am to find teenage girls and boys wandering home alone. It's back to how it used to be.

"But we are not going to turn anyone away or put them in danger. If they have lost their money and they come and see us, we take them and then get the money later," he added.

Parents have longer memories than the youngsters and almost all still give their youngsters the vital advice about getting a cab home and keeping in touch – just as Vicky's parents had to her.

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