Meredith Kercher's Father John 'Was Unable To Look At Dead Daughter's Body'

Posted: 16/04/2012 09:30 Updated: 16/04/2012 09:30   PA

Kercher
Meredith Kercher's father, John, far left, has written of his family's grief at her murder

The father of murdered student Meredith Kercher has relived the agonising moment when he travelled to Italy to identify his daughter's body.

John Kercher travelled to Perugia with his ex-wife Arline and their daughter Stephanie to see Miss Kercher's body in the morgue after her violent murder.

In a new book about the killing that robbed him of his young daughter, Mr Kercher admits he was unable to look at his daughter for a final time for fear that he would lose his "laughing and happy" final memory of her.

"Nothing can prepare you for what it is like to have to travel to a foreign country to identify the body of your daughter," he writes in the book, which has been serialised in the Mail on Sunday's Review.

"Now little more than two months since she had first moved to the city, we were approaching it for the first time and she was never coming home.

"It was time to see my daughter. But I could not face going in.

"The brutal reality of having to see what had been done to Meredith had not really hit home.

"I could go no further. For me it would have put a full stop on my memories.

"In the morgue, standing over her body, Arline had said: 'Your father's come all this way out here to see you, but doesn't feel he can.'

"Then she had smiled, for the last time at our daughter. 'But,' she had whispered, 'you know what your father's like...'"

Mr Kercher's account of his loss comes six months after Amanda Knox walked free from prison in Italy, acquitted of the crime.

University of Leeds exchange student Miss Kercher, from Coulsdon in Surrey, was found dead on November 2, 2007 in her bedroom at the house in the Umbrian hilltop city she shared with Knox and others.

Her throat had been slit and her semi-naked body was partially covered by a duvet.

Mr Kercher, a writer and journalist, recalled the last time he saw his daughter, two weeks before her murder, when she was telling him about her difficulty in finding a duvet in the small Italian city.

"She talked eagerly about Perugia," he said.

"She said she was trying to buy a duvet for her bed but nobody seemed to know where she could find one.

"I remember her saying she was determined to track one down. That this should be the duvet beneath which her body would be found is something that will always haunt me."

Knox, also studying in the town, was sentenced to 26 years' imprisonment and her Italian ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito to 25, but both strenuously protested their innocence from behind bars and were acquitted on appeal in October last year.

Ivory Coast-born drifter and small-time drug dealer Rudy Guede was also jailed for the murder after being prosecuted in a separate, fast-track trial and remains in prison.

Mr Kercher said: "My family and I now find ourselves in a limbo that, I suspect, might never end, wondering exactly what happened in those last moments of Meredith's life, and how convictions that seemed to offer all the terrible answers two years ago have been so emphatically overturned.

"With Knox and Sollecito now free, we find that we are still waiting for justice for our daughter and sister, and have to face up to the possibility that we might never have a satisfactory picture of what unfolded in Perugia on that terrible November night."

Mr Kercher said he wrote the book, entitled Meredith: Our Daughter's Murder And The Heartbreaking Quest For The Truth, because it seemed that his daughter was "all but forgotten" with the spotlight focused relentlessly on Knox and her high-profile court battle.

Mr Kercher, who also said he suffered a stroke in 2009, which could have been caused by the stress of his daughter's death, said: "It seemed as if Meredith was all but forgotten.

"In writing this book, I hope to go some way towards redressing the balance, for Meredith was a beautiful, intelligent and caring girl whom everyone loved, and her story deserves to be told."

He continued: "I also hope this book might help to keep Meredith's case in the spotlight, and, in some small way, to keep alive the hope that we might yet know the truth about her death."

While a number of books on the murder case that grabbed international attention have already been published, this will be the first to emerge from a Kercher family member.

The 304-page book hits the shelves on April 26. It gives the 21-year-old's father the chance to tell his story at least six months before Knox, from Seattle, tells hers.

Publisher HarperCollins acquired the rights to Knox's memoir for a reported £2.5 million and have tentatively scheduled its publication for 2013.

Mr Kercher also spoke about Miss Kercher's disdain for Knox, adding: "We knew Meredith had not got on with Knox. Meredith had concerns over how Knox would 'bring strange men back to the house'."

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Filed by Charlie Lindlar  |