The Guardian

Grief and fear as community mourns

- Steven Morris

At 6pm on Saturday Bobbi-Anne McLeod took the short walk from her family’s terrace home in the Leigham area of Plymouth to her local bus stop. The 18-year-old was due to catch the No 50 into the city centre then stroll eight minutes to her boyfriend’s home. She never got there.

Stuart Fullard, 54, who was driving past, saw McLeod sitting on the metal rail at the bus stop. He noticed her because she was dressed distinctiv­ely in ripped jeans with tights underneath and because she looked so young – McLeod was less than 5ft and could have been mistaken for someone much younger.

Fullard has a daughter himself and felt nervous for her in the drizzly dark. “But she didn’t look as if she had a care in the world.”

The alarm was raised when McLeod did not arrive as planned and her family quickly became deeply concerned because it was so out of character for her to disappear without telling anyone. Her brother, Lee, said her phone went to voicemail for a while, then began ringing out with no answer.

Police were called and began to try to track her phone but could not pin down her whereabout­s. By Monday morning the search was being extended and police asked for help finding her.

Police searched local woodland and gardens. A Facebook group was created to encourage friends and neighbours to join the search. Scores of local people combed the neighbourh­ood.

The most worrying find was at the bus stop – McLeod’s headphones and her tobacco. The theory that she had been abducted began to gain credence.

On Tuesday the family’s fears were realised. A body was located near Bovisand in South Hams on the south coast of Devon. The spot, close to a golf course and a beach popular with Plymouth youngsters, is seven miles – a 19-minute drive – from the family home.

Tributes poured in for her on Wednesday. Headteache­r Graham Roser, of Tor Bridge High secondary school, said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Bobbi-Anne who was a student here from 2014 until 2019.

“Bobbi-Anne had many friends

and is fondly remembered by staff and students alike.”

There was a sense of fear in the city. A woman who lives close to the McLeods said it was “disgusting” that a woman from the neighbourh­ood had been killed. The resident, who asked not to be named, said: “They’ve got to do more to make women feel safer. It feels dark and dangerous here at night. How can it be that a woman can be taken from here and killed?”

A former schoolfrie­nd, aged 19, said she was too afraid to board a bus on Wednesday after McLeod’s body was discovered, and had paid for a taxi to work instead. The friend described Bobbi-Anne as “the nicest person”. “She just used to light up the room, she always knew how to make you laugh. She was sweet – and she was so tiny.”

Amanda Issacs, 34, a close family friend and neighbour, said: “She was such a lovely little girl and what happened to her has affected the whole of Plymouth.

“The family are so upset they just need some time to grieve. Their lives have all just been turned right upside down. She was only 18 and had her whole life ahead of her.

“I have known her for nine years since I moved here. Me and her mum have been best friends since and our children were brought up together. It is not just us – the whole community is in mourning. It is every parent’s worst nightmare.

“When we were searching, we still had hope but sadly, this is beyond our worst fears. We heard when the police came to the door.

“It is so hard for the children as well. It is so difficult to take it all in. The whole neighbourh­ood will never be the same again.”

‘They’ve got to do more to make women feel safer’

Neighbour in Leigham area of Plymouth

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