Further tributes to murdered teenager

TRIBUTES have continued to pour in to a former Essex schoolgirl who was murdered in New Zealand.

Elliot Furniss

TRIBUTES have continued to pour in to a former Essex schoolgirl who was murdered in New Zealand.

The body of 15-year-old Liberty Rose Templeman, who used to live in Brightlingsea, was found in a stream in a remote part of the North Island on Sunday.

The aspiring young actress had emigrated with her family in 2005. A murder hunt is now under way as New Zealand police try to trace her killer.

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The news has shocked her friends and associates in the Essex town who have paid moving tributes to her.

Sheila Wyatt, the chairman of the Brightlingsea Pantomime Group, said she recalled Liberty - also known as Libby - as a bright and confident girl who had the potential for a successful stage career.

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Mrs Wyatt recalled the 2004 production which featured Liberty, who had kept up her passion for performing after moving to New Zealand.

She said: “I knew where Liberty was going. She was very outgoing and a dancer. Having been with the group for 30 years and seen the youngsters coming through, you notice which ones are going to go far and Liberty was on of those.

“She was up for anything - whatever you threw at her she would have taken up the challenge.

“I didn't know her very well but in that short time she certainly did stand out. It's dreadful news about her death.

“It must be awful for her family and friends. I do hope they get to the bottom of it.”

The former pupil at the Colne Community School, her parents Andy and Rebecca and brother Billy had moved from the remote town of KeriKeri to Auckland two weeks ago and she was due to start at a new college this week.

Liberty had returned to Kerikeri on Saturday evening to catch up with her former schoolmates but never made the meeting and after a frantic search her body was found on Sunday evening at about 5pm on the banks of a remote stream.

Emotional tributes from her British and New Zealand schoolmates have been posted on a number of internet sites, including a Bebo page set up in her memory and a personal section on the Gone Too Soon website.

One message, from Jo Weatherall, reads: “We still can't believe it. Our thoughts are with Andy, Rebecca and Billy. RIP Liberty.

Another, left by a friend called Danny in Brightlingsea, reads: “Libby was a lovely friendly and warm person and she will be sadly lost in many peoples lives.”

Police in New Zealand have confirmed that Liberty's death was not accidental but have not commented on the results of a post-mortem examination.

A homicide investigation, named Operation Cobham, has been launched with 30 officers working on the case.

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