A WOMAN has been arrested following allegations she tried to cash in on the tragic death of a youngster.

The 37-year-old from Erith is being investigated for a series of deceptions connected with the hit-and-run killing of schoolgirl Gemma Rolfe.

Gemma's mother says she is "sickened" by the news.

The police investigation centres on requests for donations to the non-existent Gemma Rolfe Memorial Fund. The woman has been released on police bail while police inquiries continue.

Erith School pupil Gemma, 12, was killed on May 19, 2003 in Slade Green Road, Slade Green, by a hit-and-run driver, while on her way to Guides.

She was travelling in her stepfather Dean Robey's car, when it was hit by a stolen white Austin Maestro van. Gemma had to be cut out of the car but did not survive.

The identity of the white male, aged between 18 and 20 years old, seen running from the scene of the crash, is well known locally but there is insufficient evidence to prosecute him.

Her grieving family have vowed she will not be forgotten and, in May this year, at the exact time of the accident, family and friends held a vigil and a minute's silence at the crash site and released dozens of balloons.

Bexleyheath police believe the white woman, who is about 5ft 8ins tall and has shoulder-length dyed blonde hair, has been asking for donations, particularly in the Northumberland Heath area.

They believe generous residents have given more than £500 to the bogus fund. Only one event, a charity auction and disco, has been held in Gemma's name.

Organised by family and friends in the summer, all the cash raised was given to Great Ormond Street Hospital. There are no plans for a memorial fund.

Gemma's mother Janet Ford, 37, contacted police after hearing someone was collecting money in her daughter's name.

She told News Shopper: "I, and Gemma's family, are totally sickened and hurt that someone has used our daughter's memory for their own gain.

"We are all still going through so much hurt. Does this woman not think we have been through enough?

"I miss Gemma more than words can say, so if anyone has any information about this bogus fund or has made a donation to it, please come forward and tell the police about it."

Police are anxious to talk to anyone with information. Call investigating officer Detective Sergeant Alison Cook on 020 8284 9236.