Sunday 4 December 2016

Italian adventure turned to tragedy for Meredith Kercher

Rosa Silverman

Published 03/10/2011 | 11:40

An innocuous message card pinned to an Italian university notice board led Meredith Kercher to her pointless and savage death.

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Like thousands of young Britons each year, she had set off ready for an adventure during her 12 months abroad studying.



The 21-year-old, from Coulsdon in Surrey, was reading European Studies at Leeds University and was spending a year in Italy as part of an EU-wide scheme that lets students take part of their degree in another country.



It did not take her long to fall in love with the picturesque Umbrian hilltop city of Perugia, where she had chosen to spend the academic year 2007/08.



On arrival, she checked into a local hotel while she looked for somewhere to live.



It was not long before she found on a pin board at the university an advert for a room in a large white house in the via della Pergola.



The house was situated at the top of a steep wooded valley, just below the level of a winding road near the city's historic centre.



Boasting panoramic views of Perugia, it appealed to Miss Kercher, and she moved in shortly afterwards.



At first she shared the house with two young Italian women, but they were soon joined by a fourth housemate, Amanda Knox, a 20-year-old foreign exchange student from Seattle.



Miss Kercher had come to Perugia to learn, and she worked hard at her studies in modern history, political theories and history of cinema at the city's University for Foreigners.



Intelligent, witty and caring, she was popular among her fellow students.



One of four children, she had been educated at the £10,000-a-year Old Palace of John Whitgift School, an independent girls' school in Croydon, and had always been hard working.



She hoped to either follow in her father's footsteps and become a journalist when she graduated, or otherwise to work in Brussels.



As well as being conscientious and ambitious, she was a sociable and popular student who was also in Italy to enjoy herself.



One of the reasons she had chosen Perugia was its annual chocolate festival, during which many of the streets within the city walls are lined with stalls and packed with visitors.



This festival turned out to be one of the last outings she made in her tragically short life.



On October 31 she attended a Halloween party dressed as a vampire with fake blood dripping from her mouth - an image that soon became familiar to the public for all the wrong reasons.



The next day she called her mother Arline, as she did every day, to discuss plans for her return to England.



Miss Kercher told her mother she was tired after coming back late from the party the night before and that that night she was going to watch a film with some friends.



She planned to come back early as she had an essay to finish and also had lectures at 10am the next day, with exams approaching.



But the next day, November 2, 2007, she was found dead in her room. Her throat had been slit and her semi-naked corpse was covered by a duvet.



Chief prosecutor Giuliano Mignini told the court during the murder trial: "This was a murder accompanied by sexual violence for futile motives.



"A 21-year-old girl who a few days later should have gone back to London to see her ill mother, who she was close to and who she should have embraced along with her father, sister and two brothers.



"But she was not able to return and embrace her family. She was killed in an appalling manner. The only way they can be with her is at the cemetery. She was literally eliminated."



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