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Garage search for Danielle’s body will ‘take as long as it takes’

Officers are scouring a site in Thurrock, Essex, near the home where her killer once lived.

A search of garages where police believe murdered schoolgirl Danielle Jones may have been buried for the past 16 years will “take as long as it takes”, a senior officer has said.

Officers are scouring a site between Goddard Road and Crammavill Street in Stifford Clays, Thurrock, Essex, near the home where her killer once lived.

The 15-year-old was last seen on Monday June 18 2001 at around 8am, when she left her home in East Tilbury to catch the bus to school.

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(PA Graphics)

Her uncle Stuart Campbell was convicted of murder in December 2002 but her body has never been found.

Assistant Chief Constable Steve Worron, head of Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said on the second day of the search: “I’m pleased with the progress we’ve made so far and today the focus of our activity is to work with some national search specialists and forensic archaeologists to identify once and for all whether Danielle’s body has been buried here for the last 16 years.

“That work will include the use of ground-penetrating radar (GPR) and there will also be some excavation work that will be undertaken following the GPR work under way at the moment.”

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Danielle Jones (Kent Police/PA)

He added: “The team started at around 8 o’clock this morning. It’s important for me to stress, I put no timescale about how long the work is going to take to complete.

“I’m absolutely determined though, that when we leave the site here in Stifford Clays we will be absolutely certain whether Danielle’s body has been buried here for the last 16 years or not – the work will take as long as it takes to complete.”

Grey metal fencing has been erected to conceal the work of the officers, as they moved between four fading garages still on the plot.Several of the squat structures are said to be of interest to police – and were not searched during the initial hunt for the teenager.

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Police at the scene between in Stifford Clays, Thurrock (Jack Hardy/PA)

Mr Worron added they were “not far” from Campbell’s former home.

On Monday, the parents of Danielle visited the site to see the operation being carried out. Hazard cordons snaked between the handful of buildings, centred on three white marquees through which white-suited officers passed as the drone of drilling filled the neighbourhood. Behind one garage, a pile of debris taken from inside had been piled up.

Mr Worron previously described the search as a “credible line of inquiry”. It was triggered after a member of the public told police in February this year of “unusual activity” at the site, he said.

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The parents of Danielle Jones arrive at the scene (John Stillwell/PA)

Police said some non-specific information was received in 2001 relating to this garage area, but these garages were not searched

The disappearance of Danielle and subsequent murder investigation was one of the biggest cases that Essex Police have dealt with, involving more than 750 officers and staff.

More than 1,000 garages were included in the “huge number” of searches that were carried out in 2001 and 2002, according to Mr Worron.

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