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Friday 30 September 2016

'It's bad enough to lose a child to murder' - mum lashes out after two men cleared of the rape and killing of British schoolgirl in Goa

Published 23/09/2016 | 10:36

Scarlett Keeling was murdered on a Goa beach
Scarlett Keeling was murdered on a Goa beach

Two men have been cleared of raping a British schoolgirl and leaving her to die on a beach in Goa.

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Scarlett Keeling, 15, had been on holiday with her family in the popular Indian resort of Anjuna when she attended a Valentine’s Day party in 2008.

Her partially undressed body was found on the beach the following day, showing bruises and signs of an attack.

Two local men, Samson D'Souza and Placido Carvalho, were accused of raping and assaulting Scarlett before leaving her unconscious to drown.

On Friday, judge Vandana Tendulkar cleared them of charges of rape and culpable homicide in a brief court hearing, which reportedly lasted less than a minute.

The two defendants were also acquitted of causing injury or death through supplying drugs and destroying evidence.

It came after a series of delays in the eight-year long case, which saw a change in prosecutor.

Fiona MacKeown, Scarlett’s mother, is planning to launch an appeal following the acquittal.

“I am disappointed with the verdict and I will definitely move to the higher court,” she said.

Speaking to Sky News before the ruling, she described her daughter’s death as every “parent’s worst nightmare”.

"It's bad enough to lose a child to murder without it being dragged out so long,” she added.

"They hoped I'd get tired and get fed up of waiting or wouldn't come back. They were wrong."

Prosecutors alleged Carvalho and D'Souza had plied Scarlett with drugs, raped her and left her unconscious on the beach where she subsequently drowned.

A post-mortem examination showed there was ecstasy, cocaine and LSD in the teenager's body but the defendants claimed she had taken the substances willingly.

Their friends and relatives cheered as they were acquitted in court, with D'Souza told reporters he was happy with the verdict, adding: “Justice has prevailed.”

His defence lawyer, Marvin D'Souza, said the investigation had been influenced by diplomatic pressure and trial by media.

An initial police investigation found Scarlett had drowned accidentally but a second post mortem sparked a new probe after finding she was drugged and raped.

Scarlett, from Bideford in north Devon, suffered 50 separate injuries in the attack.

The court case started in 2010 but progressed slowly, hampered by a public prosecutor withdrawing from proceedings and a key witness refusing to testify for the prosecution.

Scarlett's family were on a six-month trip to India at the time of her death. Her mother, her partner and siblings were visiting Karnataka at the time but Scarlett returned early to attend the party.

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