Someone 'shielding Melanie Hall's killers'

The father of a woman whose remains were found 14 years after she disappeared has appealed for those closest to her killers to come forward.

Steve Hall spoke on behalf of the family of Melanie Hall on the first anniversary of the discovery of her remains at the side of the M5.

Ms Hall, 25, from Wiltshire, was last seen at a nightclub in Bath in 1996.

Det Supt Mike Courtiour said he was convinced someone was shielding the killer or killers.

Ms Hall, a clerical officer at the Royal United Hospital in Bath, was last seen sitting on a bar stool at Cadillacs nightclub in the early hours of 9 June, 1996.

A bag containing her bones and skull was found in a black bin liner by a workman clearing vegetation next to a slip-road at junction 14, near Thornbury, South Gloucestershire on 5 October, 2009.

Speaking at a press conference at Bath Police Station, Mr Hall said that since the discovery, the family had become convinced she was probably murdered in Bath, not long after she was last seen in the nightclub.

He said: "Although we can do nothing to bring back Melanie, we are focused on the task of doing all we can to bring the perpetrator of this terrible crime to justice.

"It remains the last thing that we can do for our daughter and we are committed, as long as we remain alive, to hunt down her killer.

"That killer is not alone and is likely to have a mother and a father. He may have brothers and sisters. He may have a wife and possibly a child or children.

"In a perverse sort of way, we have an empathy with these people as we have to live our lives with the awful horror that our child has been brutally murdered, they also have to live theirs with the horror that comes from sharing their lives with a vicious murderer."

Image caption Melanie Hall was last seen at a Bath nightclub in 1996

He said they believed the perpetrator was within the community of Bath or Wiltshire.

He added it was likely "an undercurrent of fear" had prevented people who knew what happened from coming forward.

"We wish that we could provide the moral fibre and courage for these people to put aside their cowardice to come forward, but we cannot," he said.

"It therefore rests with those in the know about Melanie's murder to wrestle with their own demons.

"It remains never too late to rescue what credibility of humanity they have left by coming forward and helping us discover what happened to Melanie on that fateful night."

Det Supt Mike Courtiour, who is leading the investigation, said: "From our extensive inquiries over the last year, I strongly believe that a small number of people in the Bath area do know exactly what happened to Melanie on the night she disappeared and in the hours and days following.

"I am convinced that some of those people are shielding the killer or killers.

"My appeal today is for them to show some decency, some honesty and above all some compassion towards Melanie's parents and family and to tell us what they know.

"I would like to thank Mr and Mrs Hall for their continued support and understanding as we continue to strive towards bringing to justice those responsible for Melanie's murder."

A 39-year-old man from Wiltshire was arrested in August on suspicion of Ms Hall's murder and bailed.

In July a 38-year-old man from Bath was arrested on suspicion of murder. He was also released on bail.

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