Discovery of girl's body confirms villagers' fears
By Richard Savill
With a new hairstyle and plans for a party the following night, Alicia Eborne had set out from her family home to make her usual bus trip to Plymouth College of Further Education.
She never arrived. Yesterday her body was discovered in a bleak spot on the edge of Dartmoor.
She was found about 14 miles from her home on a steep wooded slope going down to the Tavy River.
Police said there was evidence to suggest that there had been an attempt to conceal the body.
Specialists from the Devon Cave Rescue Organisation helped police to secure forensic experts with ropes as they preserved the crime scene.
Sgt Michael Rose, who led the search, said: "It is on a very steep wooded area of very rough terrain with loose rocks which makes it potentially hazardous to work in. That is why we have asked for safety advice."
The news was broken to Alicia's parents, Anthony and Joan, who run an office supply company, and are said by neighbours to be Jehovah's Witnesses, and her older brothers, Matthew and Mark, at their home in the hamlet of Corntown.
The place where Alicia's body was found was about five miles from the bus route she was due to take when she disappeared.
Alicia was a health and social care student and had a part time job at a nearby patisserie. She was reported missing simultaneously by her parents and friends after they tried to call and text her mobile telephone, but failed to get a response.
Police said that there had been a "total lack of reason" for her to vanish, and she had been "very upbeat that week". For the villagers of Cornwood and Corntown, the news that her body had been found confirmed what they had most feared.
"It almost had that inevitability," said one resident last night.
Bill Cook, the sub-postmaster at Cornwood, said: "This is a terrible situation for the whole village and all we can do is offer our sincerest regrets to Alicia's family.
"For the past few days the village has been very quiet. People are very sad and it's as if the life has gone out of the community.
"Alicia used to come into the shop and I know her parents from delivering newspapers. They are lovely people, reserved and quiet." Garry Stephens, the manager of the Cornwood Inn, said: "All the customers are very upset.
"The atmosphere has been very subdued. People can't really imagine what the family are feeling and what they are going through."
Man charged with Alicia's murder
20.31PM GMT, 16 Nov 2003http://www.itv.com/news/1355011.html
A 39-year-old bus driver has been charged with the murder of Devon teenager Alicia Eborne after her body was found in remote moorland.
Lee Holbrook, from Plymouth, Devon, will appear before Torbay Magistrates tomorrow.
A search team today found the body of 18-year-old Alicia in woodland at an isolated spot near Buckland Monachorum on the edge of Dartmoor.
The discovery came nine days after the teenager went missing from her home in Corntown, Devon. She had been due to walk half a mile from the Dartmoor hamlet into nearby Cornwood to catch a bus into Plymouth.
Holbrook, who works as a bus driver, was arrested on Thursday night on suspicion of abduction and was last night arrested on suspicion of murder.
Forensic examinations were today being carried out in the area where her body was found. Police continued to search an area close to Bickleigh around seven miles away.
Alicia's Jehovah's Witness parents Anthony and Joan Eborne were informed of the discovery, police said. The couple had earlier made an emotional appeal for the teenager's safe return.
Detective Chief Superintendent Jim Webster, head of CID at Devon and Cornwall police, said: "At this time our thoughts are with Alicia's family and friends. We would like to express our deep sympathy for her family and to state the distress and concern this has caused to all those who have been hunting for Alicia in the hope she would be found well.
He added: "This place is a crime scene but it is a place of great sadness today. We would like to pay our respects to the memory of Alicia."
Tracey Rowe, barmaid at the Cornwood Inn, spoke of the shock felt in the village at the discovery.
"Everybody here has heard about it and I suppose we just feel sorry for her family," she said.
Reacting to news of the discovery, Dr Jill Spencer, a neighbour of the Ebornes, said: "It was what everybody was fearing. It almost had that inevitability.
"Although I can't really begin to imagine what they are feeling and what they are going through."