THE parents of Newnham murder victim Joanna Parrish have revealed how jurors in France consoled them after finding their daughter’s killer accomplice guilty of her part in the death.

For 33 years, Roger Parrish and Pauline Murrell have been anxiously waiting to get closure on their daughter’s murder in France which over the decades has seen numerous twists and turns as they fought for justice with the French authorities.

And last week, the moment they had been waiting since 1990, occurred when serial killer Michel Fourniret’s former wife was found guilty in France for her part in the rape and murder of Joanna in 1990, the murder of 18-year old Marie-Angèle Domèce in 1988 and the kidnapping of nine-year-old Estelle Mouzin, in 2003.

Monique Olivier, 75, was sentenced to life in prison. She was already serving a life sentence for her part in her husband’s previous murders and rapes.

Fourniret, eventually admitted that he committed Joanna’s murder to police, having denied it for decades, but he died in prison, aged 79, before he could be brought before the courts.

Fourniret was previously convicted in 2008 by the French courts of murdering eight girls and young women between 1987 and 2001, but he repeatedly denied killing Ms Parrish.

Mr Parrish said: “After the trial’s verdict had been announced, we were approached by a number of the jurors, who just wanted to express their feelings towards us. Clearly they were not taken in by Olivier’s evidence or that of the psychological and psychiatric experts.”

As part of her degree course from Leeds University, Joanne embarked on a role as an assistant English teacher at a school in Auxerre in the Burgundy region. But just a fortnight before she was due to finish, she placed an advert in a local paper offering English lessons.

The court heard that Fourniret, answered the advert and together with Olivier they arranged to meet.

And just one week before completing her posting in France, the 20-year-old was drugged, tied up, raped, beaten and strangled.

Her body was dumped in the Yonne River, near Moneteau in May, 1990. Ms Parrish’s body was found the next morning in the river near Auxerre.

The French police launched an investigation, but the crime scene itself did not get protected by the investigators. It was the first of many blunders the investigation suffered from.

Over the years Joanna’s parents have witnessed numerous other investigations and mishaps over DNA evidence.

During the trial, the jury heard that Fourniret had planned to imprison Ms Parrish for several days before killing her. Olivier explained that this had changed on the night she was kidnapped when Ms Parrish fought back in Fourniret’s van, but she was overpowered by him.

Olivier also spoke of her regret over Joanna’s death and describing her victim as being beautiful and deserved to live. She added: “I regret it. She didn’t deserve that. I am sorry.”

Mr Parrish and Ms Murrell attended court every day during the three week murder trial and heard how the evidence revealed itself through the use of translators. Ms Murrell said this situation wasn’t ideal, but their French wasn’t up to standards used in legal circumstances.

Mr Parrish said: “By the end of the trial I could follow what was going and understand more fully what was going on.

The pair felt the court process dragged, especially when the experts were called to give evidence.

“It wasn’t difficult from an emotional point of view, but they were hard to follow because however much you get a psychologist to explain the way a person acts, there really wasn’t anyway to evaluate how Olivier had acted,” said Mr Parrish. “Even the experts disagreed on their own conclusions.”

This was not the first time Mr Parrish and Ms Murrell had been to France to attend court as they observed Fourniret and Olivier’s trial in 2008.

During the formal opening of the sixth-former centre at Ribston Hall High School in Gloucester in 2014, which was named in Joanna Parrish’s honour, having been appointed as the school’s deputy head girl, Mr Parrish said that he hoped that the investigation could be resolved ‘soon’ despite Olivier initially confessing that Fourniret had murdered Jo, but almost immediately she subsequently retracted her confession.

And with the possibility of finding who had killed Joanna rapidly fading, Roger and Pauline regularly visited Auxerre to keep up the pressure on the authorities but despite possible suspects, leads came to nothing.

Last week Mr Parrish said: “We had always hoped that something substantial would happen from day one, but we still had to get on with our lives as best we could. Every couple of months, things build up and we felt that we needed to get some response from France.

“This has been our lives for the past 30 odd years. And when that breakthrough of Michel Fourniret and Monique Olivier aaaabeing named  in 2004, we immediately felt that they were responsible.

“Time has been a big healer,” Ms Murrell said. “The pain and the grief hasn’t got any less, but our ability to cope with it, to live with it and try and get on with our lives has just evolved.”

Mr Parrish added: “We are blessed with another generation, our grandchildren, the oldest of which is heading to university herself. And seeing their enthusiasm, whatever it is, from kicking a ball around consciously getting on with their studies, has been a big help.

“We never thought that this investigation was going to take as long as it has, but we were so determined that we would find out who was responsible.

“Everybody who was around at the time, and since, have been very supportive of us. It is these people who’ve spurred us on.

“We’d like to publicly thank them for being so understanding.  We will always have our association with Ribston Hall, but as time marches on the teachers and staff, who had an association with our daughter have moved on.

“We’ve had a number of heartfelt messages from Joanna’s French teacher, Jo Brazier, from Cinderford during the trial. For two decades Ms Brazier was instrumental in organising the ‘Jo Parrish Travel Award,’ which gave students the chance to study languages abroad.”

Joanna’s parents summed up their daughter and said: “She was a very kind person who achieved a lot in her life.”

Ms Murrell said: “After the verdict, we were very relieved,” with Mr Parrish adding: “We thought all along that the result would be what we wanted and our lawyer of 20 years was excellent in achieving this.

“He was able to expose Olivier’s ‘excuses’ and he made it crystal clear to the jury that she had many opportunities where she could have saved the lives of these young women. But she chose not to do so.”

Ms Murrell said that there were no doubts in their minds about Olivier’s active part and guilt despite trying to lay the blame on Fourniret, stating she was frightened of him. The jury obviously rejected this.

Mr Parrish added: “No matter what we may have felt, there are jurors who might have seen it differently.”

Ms Murrell said that if Jo’s life hadn’t been snatched away and robbed the world of an exceptional woman, she would have probably have married her long-term boyfriend and would have entered into teaching.

“But she also had a strong social conscious and could have entered into charitable work. Her range of interests were wide ranging she might have become a lawyer or a diplomat,” Mr Parish added.

Ms Murrell added: “We have no doubt that whatever she chose to do, she would have been successful and happy.”

The parents then reminisced about Joanna’s teenage years in Newnham, having lived in the village for six years before she was murdered.

Ms Murrell said that Jo had been part of Newnham Players, a drama group which is still flourishing, and was Sleeping Beauty in one of its pantomimes.

She also revealed that Jo was also a young official at Newnham Youth Club, run by Dave Jones, a policeman, who, while based at Cinderford Police Station took the phone call from French police telling the Gloucestershire Force that Joanna’s body had been found and he immediately informed the family.

Mr Parrish concluded that despite the verdict, it’s not going to bring Jo back: “Fourniret was very clearly a psychopath. He was a violent thug and a narcissistic psychopath and Olivier was an active participant.”