THE mother of a young girl who died after a hit and run accident is appealing for her daughter's killer to face justice.

Janet Ford, 37, of Wharfside Close, Erith, has spoken out after the inquest into the death of her 12-year-old daughter Gemma Rolfe, heard she died from head injuries following the crash on May 19 last year.

The Erith School pupil was on her way to Guides, in a Suzuki Vitara, driven by her mother's partner Dean Robey.

They were driving down Slade Green Road, Slade Green, when the car was hit by a white Maestro van which came out of Canada Road.

Despite numerous appeals the van driver has never been found.

Mrs Ford said: "Gemma was such a special girl. I don't want her life to wiped out as if it was nothing.

"Someone in the area must know something talked to someone. I cannot understand why no one will come forward."

Mr Robey told the inquest he had seen a "white flash" from his left. "I knew something was going to happen from the speed it was travelling."

It hit the rear of his car, which toppled over and ended up on its roof, hitting a BMW.

Mr Robey added: "I could hardly breathe. I released my seatbelt and crawled out of the car."

Gemma was freed by firefighters, but was pronounced dead at Darent Valley Hospital.

Eyewitness Elaine Pettis, a passenger in her husband's car, told the court the van seemed to stop at the junction before pulling out in front of the Suzuki.

She described the van driver, who ran off and has still not been identified, as aged between 18 and 20 with dark, tidy hair.


A YOUNG white girl with a ponytail who drives a red Metro may hold the key to identifying Gemma's killer.

Det Insp Morgan said the girl either lived in Slade Green or was a regular visitor to the area. He believes she may have seen who was driving the van and may be able to identify him. Despite appeals, she has never come forward. Anyone with information should ring 020 8284 9238.

Traffic investigator PC Steve Gilbert said the van's brakes, which were leaking fluid, were probably a factor in the accident.

Investigating officer Detective Inspector Mick Morgan said four youths had been arrested in connection with the accident but not charged.

In spite of forensic tests and several identification parades, the driver has never been formally identified, although his name is widely quoted in the community.

Det Insp Morgan added: "We haven't given up on this. There are a couple of other lines of inquiry we are following, but we still need vital evidence from either an eyewitness or someone who has firsthand knowledge of who was driving."

Mrs Ford and Mr Robey have not given up hope of finding a witness.

They leafleted the whole area after Christmas with photos of Gemma and the smashed up car and a description of their first Christmas without her, but no one came forward.

During the inquest at Croydon Coroner's Court, coroner Dr Roy Palmer said there was not enough evidence to justify an unlawful killing verdict and recorded an open verdict.

He added: "I very much hope the driver can be identified and charged."