Tributes paid to teenage murder victim

TRIBUTES have been paid to a “fun and bubbly” former Essex schoolgirl who has been murdered in New Zealand.

Elliot Furniss

TRIBUTES have been paid to a “fun and bubbly” former Essex schoolgirl who has been murdered in New Zealand.

Liberty Rose Templeman moved to the country with her family in 2005 in search of a better life, but the 15-year-old's body was found on the banks a remote stream on Sunday evening.

Liberty, known as Libby by her friends, attended The Colne Community School in Brightlingsea for more than a year, leaving when she was in Year Eight.

Speaking from her home near Colchester last night, Liberty's aunt, who did not want to be named, said the family had got “fed up” with Britain and decided to emigrate.

She said: “They thought it would be a better life for them there, ironically. They got fed up with living here, they went out there in 2005 for a couple of weeks and decided they loved it and would move out there.

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“They totally loved it out there, they absolutely loved it.

“She (Liberty) wanted to be an actress or a singer or anything theatrical. She was in pantomimes when they lived in Brightlingsea.

“She was very fun and outgoing, a bubbly girl. I haven't seen her for three years but my mum has been out there twice and each time she said Libby has grown into an independent outgoing young woman.”

The family settled in the rural town of Kerikeri on the North Island after her father Andy was offered a job there.

Liberty's mother Rebecca worked as a teaching assistant before she moved out to New Zealand but then worked part time to help support the family - who rented a house while they built their own home.

The family had moved from Kerikeri to Auckland about two weeks ago and Liberty was due to start classes at Rangitoto College on Auckland's North Shore this week.

She had returned to the small town where she used to live at the weekend to visit friends and was dropped off outside a school before going to meet her boyfriend.

But the alarm was raised when she did not arrive and after a frantic search her fully-clothed body was found on the banks of the Wairoa Stream at around 5pm on Sunday.

Her parents and brother William, 12, reportedly told journalists in New Zealand that Liberty was a “very bright and vivacious” girl with a huge personality and big dreams.

They said: “We are confident that she would always be successful in following her chosen path and acting was her passion.

“It's so unfair that our beautiful girl has been taken whilst still so young and with so much to give. We know that she will be missed terribly by all who knew her.”

According to the New Zealand Press Association (NZPA), police last night confirmed that the teenager's death was not an accident as friends and teachers laid flowers at a bridge close to the spot where her body was found.

Detectives refused to say how she had died or if she had been sexually abused but a murder inquiry has been launched, NZPA said.

Liberty's school friends from her time in Brightlingsea have described her as “bubbly and lively” with a “great sense of fun”.

Her former classmates issued a statement through the school yesterday which read: “Friends of Liberty remember her as a bubbly, lively girl who always had a smile.

“She was a peacemaker who was sociable and really enjoyed spending time with her 'funky' friends, as she described them.

“She was a popular student with a great sense of fun. She excelled in drama especially, and enjoyed participating fully in all aspects of school life. Her friends and former teachers have been shocked by the devastating news.”

Principal Nardeep Sharma added: “Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this very difficult time.”

More friends have left tributes on social networking websites Bebo and Facebook while colleagues from her acting group in New Zealand have described her as a “star” and said they have been devastated by her death.

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