THE mother of a teenage girl lured to her death by a man she met on the internet has spoken of her fresh heartbreak at being turned down for compensation because she was not present when her daughter was killed.
Ashleigh Hall, from Darlington, was 17 when she was kidnapped, raped and murdered by convicted sex offender Peter Chapman, who posed as a 19-year-old on social network site Facebook to entice her.
Ashleigh's body was dumped in a field near Sedgefield, County Durham, by the 33-year-old, who was sentenced to at least 35 years in prison for his crimes.
Now, just over three years after her death, Ashleigh's mother, Andrea Hall, has been told that she is not entitled to compensation.
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) said that in order to claim mental injury, Ashleigh's family would have had to have witnessed or been present when she died or been present in the immediate aftermath.
Ms Hall has spoken of her pain at being let down by a system that is supposed to help people in her situation.
She said: "It's just disgusting, it really is. How could I have been present at the scene. I wasnt there, so to punish you for that - not being there...how could I have been there? If I had been there, it wouldn't have happened."
The CICA said claims for compensation are governed by strict criteria and certain conditions have to be met before any money is awarded.
Ms Hall said: "To receive a letter like that, it drags you back down and then you start questioning, have they read your notes?
"And what reason have they got to send letters out like that? It's just heartbreaking, it really drags you back down."
Ashleigh's family has now lodged an appeal against the rejection of the compensation claim and expects to hear the judgement in a few weeks.
* Following the circumstances of Ashleigh's death The Northern Echo launched a Safety Net campaign, with the backing of her family, which worked to raise awareness of internet safety and make it a compulsory part of the school curriculum.
*At the request of Ashleigh's family, comments on this article have now been removed.