UK police resume house search after finding bodies

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LONDON, Nov 17 (Reuters) British police resumed their search today at a house where they have already found the bodies of two teenage girls who went missing 16 years ago.

Handyman Peter Tobin, 61, said by media to have once owned the house, has appeared in court accused of murdering 15-year-old Vicky Hamilton, whose body was found there on Monday.

Yesterday, detectives found remains of a body they believe to be that of Dinah McNicol, who was 18 when she vanished after failing to return home after a music festival.

''The body appears to be that of a woman and the height, clothing and jewellery found with the body are consistent with that of Dinah McNicol,'' Assistant Chief Constable Peter Lowton said, adding that formal identification would take some time.

McNicol's father has been informed of the discovery at the house in the seaside resort town of Margate, southeast England.

''I have had a call from the police and they seem to think they might have found Dinah,'' her father Ian was quoted by the BBC as saying.

''I will be absolutely elated if they have. It will mean we will be able to grieve as a family.'' McNicol never reached her home in Essex after leaving the music festival at Liphook, Hampshire, in the summer of 1991.

Hamilton's remains were found in a sandpit in the house's garden, police have said. She disappeared from Bathgate, West Lothian, in Scotland, also in 1991.

Tobin has appeared at a private hearing at Linlithgow Sheriff Court in Scotland accused of Hamilton's murder.

Detectives said they were using three forensic archaeologists on the site and were also excavating areas of concrete floor as their search continued.

''The focus remains the investigation into Dinah's disappearance and our work continues inside and outside the house to secure any evidence that relates to Dinah or the discovery of Vicky Hamilton,'' Lowton said.

Nicola Downing, who has lived with her family in the house for 12 years, described the events as a ''nightmare that seems to get worse every day''.

''We had never heard of Peter Tobin and we found the news devastating and unreal,'' Downing said in a statement.

''What they are finding there is just awful and it has turned our family life upside down.'' The discovery of the bodies has recalled the find of 9 murdered women and girls over a decade ago at the home of Fred and Rosemary West, widely dubbed ''The House of Horrors''. Fred West was charged with 12 murders but later committed suicide, while his wife was convicted of 10 murders in 1995.

REUTERS PD BST1814

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