Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 13 July 2014

Meredith Kercher’s relatives fly back to UK after court ordeal

Leeds University student Meredith Kercher was murdered in Perugia, Italy

The family of British student Meredith Kercher returned home last night after Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were convicted of her murder.

The Kerchers were in the courtroom in Perugia, Italy, when the guilty verdicts were read out late on Friday night.

They spoke out about their ordeal afterwards as Knox (22) continued to protest her innocence from behind bars.

Miss Kercher's mother, father, sister and two brothers said they were “pleased” with the court's decision to convict the American student and her 25-year-old Italian former lover. But during a press conference in Perugia, Italy, the family stopped short of attacking Miss Kercher's killers — insisting it was no time for “celebration”.

Knox was jailed for 26 years for sexually assaulting and killing the Leeds University student from Coulsdon, Surrey.

She was visited in prison yesterday by her dismayed mother and father, who have vowed to appeal against her conviction.

Italian news agency Ansa reported Knox spent the night after the verdict in floods of tears, claiming “no-one believes in me”.

Knox and Sollecito were arrested and locked up in November 2007, days after the semi-naked body of Miss Kercher was found in a pool of blood with her throat slit in her room in Perugia, where she was studying on her year abroad.

Prosecutors said Sollecito held her down while Knox stabbed her with a six-inch knife after some kind of extreme sex game.

At yesterday's press conference, Miss Kercher's brother Lyle said: “Ultimately we are pleased with the decision, pleased that we've got a decision, but it's not a time for celebration.”

His mother Arline told the packed room of journalists that, on the evidence, she agreed with the guilty verdicts.

She said: “If the evidence has been presented, then yes you have to agree with that verdict. It's difficult to say at the end of the day — you have to go on the evidence because there's nothing else.”

The Kerchers were awarded €4.4 million (£3.96m) compensation, but Lyle said the figure was “symbolic” and no amount could make up for their loss. He said the sum was to reflect the “severity and gravity of the case”.

The family said the 21-year-old's death had left a hole in their lives, but insisted they wanted to focus on positive memories of her.

Her sister Stephanie said: “It feels like our lives have been on hold really. You can't continue your life — you just have to take each day as it comes.”

News that Knox and Sollecito planned to appeal their guilty verdicts did not come as a surprise.

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