THE heartbroken father of murdered student Janet Murgatroyd said his daughter had been dead more than 24 hours before he was told.

The identity of 20 year-old Janet (pictured) was confirmed by her mother, Mary, on Monday, after her body was discovered floating in the River Ribble the previous day.

She was the daughter of former Chorley Football Chairman David Murgatroyd and had no brothers or sisters.

Mr Murgatroyd said: "I didn't find out the girl was my lovely daughter until the police told me on Monday afternoon."

A police spokesman said her mother was staying away from the house she shared with Janet and was too distressed to comment.

Her former headmaster, Michael Flynn of All Hallows High School in Penwortham, described Janet as a model pupil.

And he said the school was in mourning for the 'lovely girl who was so full of fun and the joys of life'.

He told of the total devastation felt by his staff at the news of her death, adding: "It is absolutely tragic to lose such a lovely girl in those circumstances and we will be getting all the children to say prayers for her."

Janet, of Broad Oak Green, Penwortham, was kicked and punched to death in the early hours of Sunday morning. Police believe she may have been raped.

Her battered body was dragged from the River Ribble near Penwortham Bridge by a ski boat driver at noon that day.

For the past year Janet had been studying for a Law degree at the University of Central Lancashire where Pro Vice Chancellor Christopher Carr said she had passed her exams with flying colours and could have pursued a very successful career.

She had also worked part time at Lancashire Constabulary Headquarters' Crime Input Bureau to help supplement her studies.

Her boss there, head of Criminal Justice Support Karen Hives, said: "She struck her colleagues here as a very determined young woman who had decided what she wanted to do with her life - a very energetic and confident young lady."

POLICE are appealing for anyone to come forward who saw Janet in the town centre on Friday night or later on near Penwortham Bridge.

She spent the evening before her death with her friend went alone to find a taxi at 12.30am.

Det Insp Graham Gooch, who is leading the murder inquiry, revealed a woman seen in a very distressed state trying to hail a taxi could have been Janet.

The woman, who was wearing a white top and jeans, was spotted on Penwortham Bridge at about 1am on Sunday.

At around the same time a young couple were seen having a heated argument in the gardens at the corner Broadgate and Penwortham Bridge. Minutes later, noises were heard coming from bushes in the gardens.

Children playing at the spot the next day noticed a pile of blood-stained clothes, but when police went to collect the garments a pair of jeans had gone missing.

Det Insp Gooch said: "We must have the jeans back - they are a vital piece of evidence. No-one will be prosecuted for handing them in."

Police are appealing for anyone who may have seen Janet to come forward and hope to hear from the couple seen arguing on the bridge so they can be eliminated from their enquiries. Call them on 614444.

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