THE MURDER of Gateway supermarket assistant Samantha Walker left friends and neighbours in Malmesbury and Tetbury devastated.

Darren Walsh, of Alexander Road, said: “She was a nice girl. I used to see her walking to town everyday.”

Pat Smith of Lower Hobbes Close said: “I didn’t think it could happen around here. It’s so quiet, although sometimes it’s not that quiet as kids will be kids.”

Brian Harris, then owner of Tetbury General Stores, said many of his customers had been upset by the girl’s death.

“It is just horrific. You hear about these sorts of things. But it really hits you when it happens so close,” he said.

PC Elizabeth Ashworth of Malmesbury police said: “I think the town is quite shocked, particularly the elderly as so many people saw Samantha at Gateway."

Town councillor Brian Denley said: “This has been a quiet town where parents have not had to worry about the safety of their children. The impact of this is likely to make parents more vigilant. It is appalling if a girl cannot go to a party.”

Friends described her as brave and cheerful. Others painted a picture of a quiet and unassuming girl whose favourite pastime was needlework.

Shocked workmates and Samantha’s many friends in Malmesbury left dozens of bunches of flowers near the paddock and gave £900 to the store in her memory.

Some of the money was used to buy a bench and a tree at the store entrance and the majority was given to the Dickens children’s ward at Guy’s Hospital, London.