Award-winning reporter LINDA PIPER was a News Shopper journalist for more than 19 years.

In 2003 she covered the horrific and still unsolved hit-and-run death of Erith School pupil Gemma Rolfe in Slade Green.

As the 10th anniversary of the crash approaches, there is still no closure for the family of the 12-year-old girl who had her life cruelly taken away.

Here, Linda makes an emotional appeal to anyone with information to come forward and finally help get justice for Gemma as part of News Shopper's campaign

FOR the past 10 years a man has harboured a guilty secret.

It does not appear to bother him, or the friends who also share it, since they have never revealed it to those who have a right to know.

Ten years ago, I met a remarkable woman. She was brave in the face of unimaginable grief; steadfast in supporting her partner and son and determined to see justice done.

How are these two people connected? Janet Robey lost her only daughter Gemma Rolfe - the victim of a hit-and-run driver, at the age of 12.

The man, then just a teenager, was the driver of the white Maestro van which caused Gemma’s death.

Gemma was cut from the wreckage by firefighters but died at the scene on May 19, 2003.

Every year since Gemma was killed Janet, Gemma’s stepfather Dean Robey and Gemma’s brother Kye, have marked her death by laying flowers at the crash scene in Slade Green Road, Slade Green.

News Shopper: Gemma Rolfe things.

Mementos of Gemma at mum Janet's home. 

To this day Janet is still tireless in appealing for those who know, to come forward and name the driver to police.

Since the night of the crash, which happened as Mr Robey was driving Erith School pupil Gemma to her Guides meeting, the name of the driver has circulated in the area. But his guilt has never been proved.

He was not alone in the van when it hit Mr Robey’s Suzuki Vitara near the junction of Canada Road, just after 7pm. Three other youths also abandoned the van and fled the scene.

A white girl with a ponytail, driving a red Rover Metro, was also believed to have seen the van driver. But she never came forward.

On the first anniversary of Gemma’s death I wrote that hit-and-run drivers are cowards.

They kill and maim people and are too afraid to take the consequences of their actions.

They run away and hide; conceal their identity, rather than face up to what they have done.

They destroy families who spend the rest of their lives coming to terms with what happened to their loved one.

Ten years on, it seems unlikely the driver will face up to his responsibility and confess to his part in Gemma’s death.

But just as shameful are the many others who have helped him keep his cowardly secret. They probably now have their own families; their own daughters like Gemma.

Now is the time to put themselves in Janet Robey’s shoes; break their silence and finally give her and Gemma, the justice they deserve.