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Creeting St Peter's unwanted attention

PUBLISHED: 19:10 20 November 2001 | UPDATED: 10:53 03 March 2010

AS a bitterly cold night gave way to a crisp sunlit dawn, Creeting St Peter became the focus of unwanted national attention.

Though a blanket of darkness had cloaked the hamlet during the early hours of September 25, 1999, reporters from local and national newspapers along with TV and radio crews had begun to descend upon the village.

AS a bitterly cold night gave way to a crisp sunlit dawn, Creeting St Peter became the focus of unwanted national attention.

Though a blanket of darkness had cloaked the hamlet during the early hours of September 25, 1999, reporters from local and national newspapers along with TV and radio crews had begun to descend upon the village.

By 9am the depth of the nation's sorrow was being conveyed across the world with Sky News, BBC and ITV under way with their broadcasts.

The BBC had dispatched its crime correspondent Stephen Cape, while Sky sent Geoff Meade, who has been seen more recently reporting from war-torn Afghanistan. These were faces villagers had only seen on their television screens, but now they were

knocking on their front doors requesting interviews.

That early autumn day two years ago illustrated Vicky Hall's disappearance was big news – but the hunt to find her was so much more than just a story.

The bravery of her parents, Graham and Lorinda, had reached into people's homes and their despair had touched the hearts of those throughout the country.

When the media announced the discovery of the 17-year-old's body the impact reverberated around Britain.

It was the moment everyone feared but hoped would never come.

Although even when Suffolk Police set up its first press conference on September 20, the day after Vicky went missing, the media could sense the increasing fears officers had for her welfare.

With Vicky's mum and dad too distraught to talk to the media, her aunt, Claire Taylor of Barham,

attempted to suppress her own fears and faced the daunting task of answering the questions and

appealing for information.

Accompanied by Detective Superintendent Roy Lambert, the 40-year-old remained composed albeit worry was etched deep into her face.

Given Vicky's loving, secure family background, detectives knew it would have been

completely out of character for her to vanish without telling her parents where she was. Privately they feared the worst while still trying to remain upbeat about the chances of finding her alive.

Throughout the next 48 hours the hunt was elevated to national status featuring as the lead item on news channels and the front pages of many papers.

Suffolk Police press officers were besieged with requests from TV companies for interviews with Graham and Lorinda Hall.

Desperate for their daughter's return and enduring almost intolerable pain they faced the assembled ranks of the press to issue their own plea the following day.

Their torment was captured on film as, clinging tightly to her husband's arm, Lorinda Hall's

expression and body language betrayed the depth of their despair.

Emotional interviews followed on GMTV and other national TV programmes. But just two days later Vicky's body was discovered by Jim Armour who was walking his dog along a country track just outside Creeting St Peter.

The Evening Star, which devoted pages in each paper every day during the week leading up to the macabre discovery, was again at the forefront of the media coverage.

The following day many of the tabloid Sunday papers put the story on the front page and

followed up with pictures and

editorial inside.

Throughout the following week the massed ranks of the media

continued to report on the latest

developments.

One of the most heart-wrenching moments was when Vicky's best friend Gemma Algar appealed for information on the killer when she appeared at a packed press conference on September 28.

As she ran through the pair's final evening together and paid her own moving tribute to her friend, Gemma finally broke down in tears.

So comprehensive and so valiantly delivered was Gemma's account that when reporters were offered the opportunity to have a one-to-one interview with her after the press conference it was felt the teenager had suffered enough and the offer was declined.

It was this moment which defined the media's

coverage more than any other. Although each was in a

competitive environment they all could empathise with the

desolation of those who Vicky Hall had loved and left behind.

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