Father of Meredith Kercher was found in street near home before dying from pneumonia, inquest told

Mystery surrounds the death of the father of murdered British student Meredith Kercher after an inquest heard he was found in the street near his home with fractures across his body, with no evidence of what happened shortly before.

John Kercher, 77, was found with injuries to his arm, ankle, face and ribs in Croydon, south London on January 13, 2020.

Police have been unable to establish whether he fell or was the victim of a possible hit and run, an inquest at South London Coroner’s Court was told.

The court heard that Mr Kercher was found lying injured in the road with his arm stretching out, but no one witnessed how he had ended up there despite extensive public pleas. 

Officers and his son Lyle conducted door-to-door searches of the area, but no CCTV footage could be recovered to provide a breakthrough.  

Detective Sergeant Zoe Hendrick, of Metropolitan Police, told the hearing: ‘Two pieces of CCTV were found. As it was a dark, wet and rainy evening it was impossible to identify how he had come to be in the street.

‘Following door to door enquiries and media appeals nothing came to light.’

He was rushed to hospital, but had no recollection of what had taken place and eventually died from pneumonia on February 1.

Mr Kercher was the father of Meredith Kercher, the British student who was sexually assaulted and killed in Italy in 2007 in a case that attracted global attention. 

Meredith’s American flatmate Amanda Knox and her then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito (bottom-right, together) were initially convicted of murdering her but were later cleared on appeal. 

Another man, Rudy Hermann Guede, who was 20 at the time of the murder, was found guilty of sexual assault and murder and sentenced to 30 years’ imprisonment after his DNA was found at the scene. He was released in December last year after serving a 16-year sentence.

Following her death he released a book in which he detailed memories of her growing up, his relationship with her mother, Arline frustrations in the family’s quest for justice, and the impact the case had on his own health.

Jonathan Kercher pictured near his Croydon home. Police have been unable to establish the circumstances around his death after he was found collapsed in the street on a wet and windy night

John Kercher, 77, was found collapsed on the pavement yards from his home in Croydon, south London. He is pictured with his daughter Meredith who was murdered in 2007

John Kercher, 77, was found collapsed on the pavement yards from his home in Croydon, south London. He is pictured with his daughter Meredith who was murdered in 2007

Meredith Kercher was sexually assaulted and stabbed to death in a case that garnered huge media attention

Meredith Kercher was sexually assaulted and stabbed to death in a case that garnered huge media attention

Ambulance crews found Mr Kercher with a fracture on his right ankle, left upper arm, ribs and the side of his face, and had a cut to his left eye brow.

He was said to have been ‘in distress’ before being taken to Croydon University Hospital for further treatment. 

Doctors found he had low blood pressure and, accordingly, his heart rate was monitored.

Two days later, though, Mr Kercher began encountering breathing problems after developing pneumonia. 

The next day, on January 17, he was placed on a ventilator and operated on for his injuries.  

In the week before he died his breathing got steadily better, but he did not regain consciousness as sedatives were removed and doctors decided to place him on end of life care after speaking to his family.

Assistant Coroner Dr Julian Morris recorded a narrative conclusion of pneumonia and traumatic injuries.

He said: ‘He had suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and had previously had a stroke.

‘On the evening of 13 January 2020 he was found injured, conscious but confused, in the middle of the street. He did not recall how he had come to be there.

‘Ambulance and the police attended and he had fractures to his upper arm, legs, ribs and the side of his face.

‘Despite their investigations, police were unable to account for how he came to be on the floor despite enquiries, a media appeal and searching for and examining CCTV.

‘He was treated in hospital for his injuries and required increased levels of respiratory support. He had to be intubated and required a tracheotomy but, although his sedation was reduced, he did not wake up, and he was then given end of life care.’

At the time of the death, the Met Police’s detective sergeant Steve Andrews said: ‘Despite thorough enquiries made so far, including speaking to witnesses and examining potential CCTV opportunities, we’ve not as yet been able to establish how he came to sustain his injuries, which included a broken arm and broken leg.

‘We are keeping an open mind as to the circumstances of his death, including whether he may have been involved in a collision.’ 

A Met Police spokesman added: ‘Police are appealing for witnesses and information following the unexplained death of a man in Croydon.

‘Officers were called at approximately 7.30pm on Monday, 13 January to reports of a man found collapsed suffering injuries on Windmill Road in Croydon.

‘The 77-year-old man was taken to a south London hospital for treatment. He remained in hospital but died from his injuries on Saturday, 1 February.’  

John Kercher is pictured with Meredith's mother Arline and sister Stephanie at a press conference in Italy in November 2007

John Kercher is pictured with Meredith’s mother Arline and sister Stephanie at a press conference in Italy in November 2007 

Arline (left), John (centre) and Stephanie Kercher (right), relatives of slain British student Meredith Kercher, address a news conference in Perugia September 15, 2008

Arline (left), John (centre) and Stephanie Kercher (right), relatives of slain British student Meredith Kercher, address a news conference in Perugia September 15, 2008

Following his daughter’s death, Mr Kercher penned a book in 2012, titled Meredith: Our Daughter’s Murder And The Heartbreaking Quest For The Truth.

In his moving account of the tragedy, he lifted the lid on Meredith’s childhood and how the family coped when he and his wife, Arline, divorced in 1997. 

‘During that first week of living apart, I came home to find Meredith had left a message on my answering machine, singing Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You,’ he wrote.

‘Her voice was beautiful and haunting, and I think I cried on hearing it. I kept it there, playing it several times every day until the telephone service provider deleted it.

‘Meredith would come for dinner every Friday after school. I would cook and then we would watch videos of the hit comedy series Friends.

‘She also loved clothes, so one day I took her to Selfridges in Oxford Street. I thought she might like to spend half an hour there. How stupid of me! I should have taken a packed lunch. A more fruitful shopping spree was when Meredith, then 14, Stephanie and I travelled on Eurostar to Lille.

‘We had a wonderful lunch and then the girls discovered some clothes shops. I had to visit a cash machine a couple of times to pay for all their purchases.

‘Some memories, however, brought me back to Meredith’s final night. I could not help thinking of the hours Meredith had spent practising karate, and how she must have fought back on the night she was murdered.

‘Against one person, we were all certain, Meredith could have held her own.’

He also revealed how he suffered a stroke in the summer of 2009, having first endured bouts of dizziness which doctors thought might be the result of an ear condition. 

‘I was in hospital for several days and had double vision for weeks afterwards,’ he wrote

‘I will never know whether the stress of Meredith’s death and the subsequent trial affected my health, but it made me question how many more times I could make the trip to Perugia, and how much more of the chaos I was able to bear.’

The 21-year-old was murdered on a student exchange trip to Perugia, Italy, in 2007. She was sexually assaulted before being stabbed to death in a case that drew huge media attention.

Rudy Hermann Guede, who was 20 at the time of the murder, was found guilty of sexual assault and murder and sentenced to 30 years’ imprisonment after his DNA was found at the scene.

However, his sentence was later reduced to 16 years on appeal.

In 2017, he was granted partial prison release to attend school and get a master’s degree.

He has also been granted permission to continue the remainder of his term, due to end in March 2022, through community service.  

Rudy Guede, 33, was convicted in 2008 for the killing of 21-year-old Kercher in Perugia, Italy in November 2007. He denies murdering Kercher [File photo]

Rudy Guede, 33, was convicted in 2008 for the killing of 21-year-old Kercher in Perugia, Italy in November 2007. He denies murdering Kercher [File photo]

A vigil is held by staff and students at the University of Leeds to remember murdered student Meredith Kercher

A vigil is held by staff and students at the University of Leeds to remember murdered student Meredith Kercher

Meredith’s American flatmate Amanda Knox and her then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were convicted of murdering her but were later cleared on appeal.

Knox served four years behind bars, but was released and returned to the US in 2011 after her conviction was overturned.

She was retried in 2014, but did not return to Italy for the trial and was convicted for a second time.

In 2015, though, Italy’s Supreme Court overturned her second conviction and brought an end to her legal proceedings.  

Since settling in Seattle she has written books advocating for people wrongly convicted of crime and has taken part in a Netflix documentary about her case. 

Earlier this summer, Knox spoke about her name being associated with the recently-released film Stillwater, saying that any connection ripped off ‘my story without my consent at the expense of my reputation’.

Stillwater stars Matt Damon as a father who flies to France to help his estranged daughter, Allison, played by Abigail Breslin. She has been convicted and imprisoned for murdering her girlfriend in Marseille, in a case that has generated lurid headlines.

Ms Knox is never named on screen, but in interviews the filmmakers have noted her sensational case was an initial jumping off point for the script.

In tweets and an essay on the site Medium, Ms Knox called out various publications and director Tom McCarthy for using her name to promote the film.

She wrote that his ‘fictionalised version of me is just the tabloid conspiracy guiltier version of me’.

‘Does my name belong to me? Does my face? What about my life? My story? Why is my name used to refer to events I had no hand in? I return to these questions because others continue to profit off my name, face, and story without my consent,’ she wrote. 

‘By fictionalising away my innocence, my total lack of involvement, by erasing the role of the authorities in my wrongful conviction, Mr McCarthy reinforces an image of me as a guilty and untrustworthy person.’ 

Kercher's case drew huge media attention, much of which centred on her housemate Amanda Knox, now 33, pictured centre in 2008 [File photo]

Kercher’s case drew huge media attention, much of which centred on her housemate Amanda Knox, now 33, pictured centre in 2008 [File photo]

Knox and her then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 36, were convicted of Kercher's murder in 2009 before being acquitted, convicted again and then finally definitely cleared in 2015. Pictured: The former couple in 2007

Knox and her then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 36, were convicted of Kercher’s murder in 2009 before being acquitted, convicted again and then finally definitely cleared in 2015. Pictured: The former couple in 2007

At the Cannes Film Festival in July, where Stillwater was screened, Mr McCarthy said Ms Knox’s case served as an ‘initial inspiration point but not much beyond that. I just had a daughter then and I thought how it would be like’.

In a later interview, Mr McCarthy said he ‘didn’t want to kind of copy or mimic’ Ms Knox’s legal ordeal.

‘It’s loosely inspired by that case, so I didn’t want to try and do a recreation of that. I want Allison to kind of be her own standalone character, but it was definitely great to have that for a reference.’

‘It’s all been about Knox – not justice for my daughter’: John Kercher lifted the lid in 2012 on her carefree young life, her horrific murder – and his agonising quest for justice

My daughter Meredith, aged 21, was murdered on November 1, 2007 in her bedroom in Perugia, Italy, where she was studying at the city’s  University For Foreigners.

In the days that followed, one of her housemates, an American girl named Amanda Knox, a young Italian man named Raffaele Sollecito, and Rudy Guede, a Perugia resident originally from the Ivory Coast, were arrested on suspicion of her murder.

While Guede remains imprisoned for taking my daughter’s life, last October Knox and Sollecito had their convictions quashed on appeal.

My family and I now find ourselves in a limbo that, I suspect, might never end, wondering exactly what happened in those last moments of Meredith’s life, and how convictions that seemed to offer all the terrible answers two years ago have been so emphatically overturned.

With Knox and Sollecito now free, we find that we are still waiting for justice for our daughter and sister, and have to face up to the possibility that we might never have a satisfactory picture of what unfolded in Perugia on that terrible November night.

Despite everything that has happened since, it still seems as though nobody knows anything about the real Meredith.

The media’s glare throughout the trial and appeal process has been fixed almost entirely on Amanda Knox. Books have been written about her and there has even been a television film focusing on her. It has seemed as if Meredith has been all but forgotten.

In writing this book, I hope to go some way towards redressing the balance, for Meredith was a beautiful, intelligent and caring girl whom everyone loved, and her story deserves to be told.

My hope is that I can share with the world something of the wonderful  girl who was our daughter and sister. I hope our telling the world about the enchanting, generous, kind person that Meredith was can help those whose lives she touched.

I also hope this book might help to keep Meredith’s case in the spotlight, and, in some small way, to keep alive the hope that we might yet know the truth about her death.

November 1, 2007, and I am in my local bank in Croydon, South London, when Meredith telephones from Perugia. It is 2.15pm, an unusual time for Meredith to call as we usually speak in the evenings.

But today she does not have to go to university, where she is studying European politics and Italian, as it is a public holiday in Italy.

The call is costing her money, so we don’t have a chance to say much.

I tell her I’ll call her when I get home, but she is going out for dinner with some English friends, so instead we arrange to speak tomorrow.

The next day comes and I find myself at home when Meredith’s mother, Arline, rings. It is 5pm and she has seen on the news that a female British student has been found murdered in Perugia.

I have been divorced from Arline for ten years, and she is living in Old Coulsdon, Surrey. I am worried, but I tell myself that there are many British students studying in Perugia.

Immediately, I call Meredith but all I hear is an automated message. For the next half-an-hour I try her number at least a dozen times, but every time the call goes through to the message.

Then suddenly, after what feels like an age of trying, her mobile starts to ring. I feel some relief and, for the first time, I am confident that my daughter is fine.

Yet, the phone rings on and on, and still there is no answer.

I have to get some information, so I call the foreign desk of a national newspaper. Having worked as a freelance journalist for Fleet Street newspapers and national magazines, it seems the logical thing to do. A man tells me that they have only sketchy details, but if I call back in an hour they might know more.

When I do, I am told by one of the foreign desk editors that Italian police have found the British girl’s mobile phone, and that they have been in touch with people in London.

Again, my hopes rise because this must mean that, whoever this unfortunate girl is, her family and the British police must have been notified.

I have not yet contacted our other children – Meredith’s older sister Stephanie, and brothers Lyle and John – because I do not want to worry them unduly.

For the next 30 minutes I sit by the phone, trying not to feel so apprehensive. Then the phone rings.

The call is from a young woman on the newspaper’s foreign desk. Hesitantly, she tells me they have a name for the victim. Though I ask for it, she is reluctant to tell me. She seems nervous herself and I have to persuade her to release the name. I shall never forget her words.

‘The name going round Italy,’ she says, ‘is Meredith.’

I drop the phone. I do not believe it. There has to be a mistake. I refuse to let the facts sink in.

I repeat it over and over to myself: ‘Not beautiful Meredith . . . Not beautiful Meredith . . .’

Numb with shock, I cannot even cry.

I arrive at Arline’s house within an hour. Stephanie, John and Lyle are there already. By now Arline has spoken to the Foreign Office. Officials have confirmed the worst. The dead girl is Meredith.

Everyone is crying. At 9pm, my daughter’s picture is on the news. I stare at it, registering its familiarity but unable to react.

It is as though my feelings have been folded up and removed from me, leaving my mind free to have pointlessly logical thoughts. I can’t say how I passed the night, except I don’t think I slept.

Nothing can prepare you for what it is like to have to travel to a foreign country to identify the body of your daughter. Meredith had told me how beautiful Perugia was.

Now, a little more than two months since she had first moved to the city, we were approaching it for the first time, and she was never coming home.

We met the Italian police at a roundabout, and they gave us an escort to the morgue. They did not speak English but consulate staff acted as our translators.

As we climbed up the steep roads, however, our talk petered out and we all felt the incongruity of the beautiful scenery and our purpose for being there.

There was a large number of officials inside the morgue, including the Chief of Police and the head of the homicide squad. Many of them were close to tears.

It was time to see my daughter. But I could not face going in. The brutal reality of having to see what had been done to Meredith had not really hit home. A small man from the mortuary approached Arline and Stephanie and, leaving me behind, they went through the doors. I could go no further.

For me, it would have put a full stop to my memories. I had seen her only a couple of weeks before when she had flown back to London to buy some winter clothes.

We had met for a coffee at a small Italian restaurant in Croydon, a place where we met often.

We would talk about books and music; the Italian film she had been to see to improve her language; the occasional dance she had been to with her new English friends and the wonderful pizzas she was eating.

On this occasion, Meredith was almost an hour late (this wasn’t unusual).

When she arrived, she talked eagerly about Perugia.

She said she was trying to buy a duvet for her bed, but nobody seemed to know where she could find one. I remember her saying she was determined to track one down. That this should be the duvet beneath which her body would be found is something that will always haunt me.

She had been laughing and was happy. It was the last time I had seen her and I wanted that to be the memory that I held in my mind for ever.

In the morgue, standing over her body, Arline had said: ‘Your father’s come all this way out here to see you, but doesn’t feel he can.’

Then she had smiled, for the last time, at our daughter.

‘But,’ she had whispered, ‘you know what your father’s like . . . ’

The news that Amanda Knox was being held for the murder sent shockwaves through our family.

Arline could not comprehend that Meredith’s own housemate might have been involved in this terrible crime.

‘Amanda? Amanda?’ she kept repeating, in a state of utter disbelief.

We knew Meredith had not got on with Knox. Meredith had expressed irritation to us and to her friends in Perugia at Knox’s personal habits, because she frequently failed to flush the lavatory and Meredith had concerns over how Knox would ‘bring strange men back to the house’, but the idea that this irritation could lead to murder seemed preposterous.

We knew so little of the American girl and absolutely nothing of her boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, whom Meredith had never mentioned.

The alibis of Knox and Sollecito kept changing.

At first, Knox claimed to have been at Sollecito’s flat all evening on the night of the murder.

Then Sollecito claimed that she had left his place at about 9pm and had not returned until 1am, during which time he had been on the internet.

Knox then changed her story to say that she had been at the cottage at the time that Meredith was killed.

It was during these first days of questioning that Knox claimed that Diya ‘Patrick’ Lumumba, the owner of a local bar called Le Chic, was the murderer.

Lumumba, of Congolese origin, had been living legally in Italy since 1988, running the bar where Knox had a part-time job.

Back in England, this was the first big piece of news we had heard. Pictures of Lumumba were shown on television, but I spoke to Arline on the telephone and neither of us could believe that we were looking at the killer.

Two weeks later, the chief prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini, asked for Lumumba’s release, saying: ‘There are no longer any serious indications linking him to the crime.’

Lumumba was later quoted as saying: ‘I think that Amanda wanted to derail the investigation…

‘Amanda hated Meredith because people loved her more than Amanda. She was insanely jealous that Meredith was taking over her position as Queen Bee.’

Things became even more distressing. Although we knew Meredith had been killed by a knife wound to her throat, we had not realised it had been preceded by a sexual assault.

The post-mortem had revealed bruising on her lips and gums consistent with her face being crushed on the ground to hold her still. How could anyone do this to her, we asked ourselves? Why had she been singled out for this kind of treatment?

We tried to get our bearings by finding out more about Amanda Knox. I read that she was aged 20 and had been born in Seattle, the daughter of a retail executive and a primary-school teacher.

After only a few years, her parents divorced and Amanda went to Seattle Preparatory School, described as a strict Jesuit institution. Later, she attended Washington University.

Raffaele Sollecito remained a somewhat quiet, bespectacled figure. At the time of his arrest, he was aged 23. The son of a prominent urologist from Giovinazzo in southern Italy, he had led a privileged life. He described himself on a social networking site as being ‘sweet, but sometimes absolutely crazy’.

Sollecito appeared in pictures posted on the internet wielding a meat cleaver. It emerged that he was passionate about collecting knives.

After the murder, police searched his flat and discovered  a collection of Japanese manga comics, some of which depicted acts of extreme violence.

One which attracted particular attention was concerned with the killing of female vampires at Halloween. It was not lost on police that Meredith had been dressed as a vampire to celebrate Halloween only one night before she was murdered.

Police later went on to say that the scene they discovered at the cottage was reminiscent of the scenes depicted in Sollecito’s comics.

A short while before Patrick Lumumba was released, the investigation took another decisive turn.

The police identified a bloodied fingerprint on Meredith’s pillow that belonged to one Rudy Hermann Guede, an immigrant from the Ivory Coast who had already been arrested for petty theft and drug dealing.

DNA taken from his toothbrush matched DNA found on and inside Meredith’s body.

This seemed to  tie Guede to the scene of Meredith’s murder. Witnesses had already described a man of African origin fleeing the cottage on the night of the murder, later to be seen washing clothes in a launderette.

Guede had arrived in Italy from the Ivory Coast in 1992, aged five, with his father. When Guede was 15 his father had returned to Africa.

Extradited from Germany where he had been lying low, Guede was now concerned that Knox and  Sollecito might attempt to pin the blame solely on him, so his defence team requested that he be tried on his own by a single presiding judge.

This ‘fast-track trial’ would take place during pre-trial hearings.

The request was granted. Armed with 10,000 pages of documentation, the judge, Paulo Micheli, heard evidence from forensics experts regarding the various DNA findings, Sollecito’s DNA having been discovered on Meredith’s bra clasp, and a bloodied footprint having been revealed as belonging to the young Italian man.

There was also the presentation of evidence that Knox’s bloodied footprints had been found in the  cottage’s hallway and bathroom; that her DNA had been found in blood mixed with Meredith’s in the bathroom; and that her DNA had been shown to be on a knife handle, with Meredith’s on the blade – a knife that police had found at Sollecito’s apartment and which, the prosecution claimed, had been removed from the scene of the crime.

Judge Micheli also heard Knox’s and Sollecito’s defence teams attempting to refute much of the  evidence, specifically the DNA evidence, which they blamed on contamination and poor forensics procedures.

This was to be a major contention in this pre-trial, the main trial and, later, the first appeal.

Regrettably, a key piece of evidence – the bra clasp – was not retrieved from the crime scene until 47 days after the murder because it had been hidden from view.

On October 28, 2008, Arline, Stephanie, Lyle and I returned to Perugia to hear the verdict on Guede.

After a nerve-racking wait, we were called to the court at 9pm. Photographers jostled at the entrance and we were guided in, individually, by police escorts.

I felt almost light-headed with lack of sleep; looking at Arline, Stephanie and Lyle, I saw the same  strain on their faces. There was a tense silence.

Amanda Knox sat with her lawyers, as did Raffaele Sollecito and Rudy Guede with theirs. They had been brought in under armed guard. Judge Micheli entered and everyone rose to their feet.

The chief of homicide, Monica Napoleoni, stood at my side, ready to convey the verdict.

As the judge began his statement, Ms Napoleoni looked at me, squeezing my hand, then concentrated on what the judge was saying. It was in Italian, so we had no idea what was being said.

The judge had been deliberating for 12 hours about his decision. This was the moment.

Suddenly, Ms Napoleoni turned to look at me and squeezed my hand again, nodding emphatically.

Rudy Guede had been found guilty of complicity in Meredith’s murder and sentenced to 30 years in prison. Knox and Sollecito had been indicted on charges of murder and sexual violence and would stand trial.

I did not know what to feel. It was certainly not relief because I knew that this was only the beginning.

After this, we would have to go through the main trial. I can only say that we were not elated – but  we were satisfied that justice was progressing in the right direction.

It was not a moment any of us could relish. In our hearts, all we wanted to know was what had happened to Meredith and why she had to be taken so cruelly away.

As her sister Stephanie said at Meredith’s memorial service: ‘Anyone who was fortunate enough to have known her would testify that she was one of the most caring people you could ever meet.

‘Nothing was too much for her. She was a loyal daughter, sister and friend.’

It is not only our family and her friends who have lost her. So has the world.

I Will Always Love You, she sang in her haunting voice

During those days following Meredith’s death, I would immerse myself in photographs and lose myself in memories of her jokes, her wicked one-liners and her laughter.

Then recently while cleaning my home, I came across a shoebox containing roll after roll of undeveloped film. They have since been developed and I have seen that wonderful smile once again. In one picture I particularly love, Meredith is opening her Christmas presents by the fireplace.

On Christmas Eve I would pull some ash into the fireplace and draw small footprints to show that Father Christmas’s boots had landed there.

Meredith was due on December 25, 1985. But, as was to be the pattern of her life, she was late, and it was on December 28 that Arline  was taken to Guy’s Hospital in London.

I set out in the car with John, Lyle and Stephanie to drive the 18 miles to the hospital. The weather was freezing and after about ten minutes, there was a rattling sound coming from under the car bonnet. I discovered the water in the radiator had turned to ice. We abandoned the car and dashed to the nearest station, Purley, to continue our journey by train.

I like to think that it was because of the season she was born in that Meredith loved winter, especially when it snowed and she could get out her plastic sledge.

In October 1987, when Meredith was nearly two, a 120mph hurricane came through Old Coulsdon. Arline and I huddled on the upstairs landing with the four children. That night, an 80ft tree slammed across the back of the house, a long branch smashing through the girls’ bedroom window. It was a fortunate escape.

Meredith liked going to the coast and we visited Brighton regularly. Sometimes we had a picnic on the beach. Then there were the Lanes, a maze of narrow streets filled with cafes, bistros and antiques shops. She was fascinated by this place and I often picture her there.

In 1997, Arline and I agreed to divorce, and I moved into a flat in Croydon.

During that first week of living apart, I came home to find Meredith had left a message on my answering machine, singing Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You.

Her voice was beautiful and haunting, and I think I cried on hearing it. I kept it there, playing it several times every day until the telephone service provider deleted it.

Meredith would come for dinner every Friday after school. I would cook and then we would watch videos of the hit comedy series Friends.

She also loved clothes, so one day I took her to Selfridges in Oxford Street. I thought she might like to spend half an hour there. How stupid of me! I should have taken a packed lunch. A more fruitful shopping spree was when Meredith, then 14, Stephanie and I travelled on Eurostar to Lille.

We had a wonderful lunch and then the girls discovered some clothes shops. I had to visit a cash machine a couple of times to pay for all their purchases.

Some memories, however, brought me back to Meredith’s final night. I could not help thinking of the hours Meredith had spent practising karate, and how she must have fought back on the night she was murdered.

Against one person, we were all certain, Meredith could have held her own.

Did stress cause my stroke?

During the summer of 2009, I suffered a stroke. I’d had bouts of dizziness, which my doctor thought might be attributable to an ear condition, but then in July, I was hit with the stroke.

I was in hospital for several days and had double vision for weeks afterwards.

I will never know whether the stress of Meredith’s death and the subsequent trial affected my health, but it made me question how many more times  I could make the trip to Perugia, and how much more of the chaos I was able to bear.

How Foreign Office let us down

We were surprised at the lack  of financial help available from the British Government as  we dealt with the aftermath  of Meredith’s death.

We had received tremendous support from the British Consulate in Florence,  which arranged translation facilities and made transport arrangements, but despite our pleas, we did not receive any financial support from the Foreign Office.

A number of MPs campaigned on our behalf for some contribution towards our flights, but their efforts were to no avail.

Indeed, it seemed this was a policy decision, one that did not affect just us, but anybody who had suffered an ordeal such  as ours. This lack of help was despite the fact that we were obliged to provide testimonies  in court.

Nor could we expect any help from the Italian government. Before Meredith was murdered, EU states had said they would sign an agreement to compensate the families of foreign nationals who were victims of a violent crime committed in their country.

However, of all the states, Italy failed to sign the agreement in time.

Financially we were alone and it made the business of attending the trial, and seeking justice for Meredith, all the more problematic.

© Text and pictures: John Kercher 2012.

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