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Teen girl `horrifically tortured before her murder'

A 17-YEAR-old girl was ``deliberately and systematically tortured'' by her 49-year-old boyfriend for up to four weeks before she was murdered, a court in Britain was told yesterday.

Kelly Anne Bates had 150 separate injuries to her body. Her eyes had been gouged out; and she had been stabbed, burned, scalded, partially scalped and starved of food before drowning in a bath.

Police found her naked body in the upstairs bedroom of her boyfriend's house in Gorton, Greater Manchester.

James Patterson Smith, unemployed, denies murder.

The jury heard how Kelly, from Hattersley, Greater Manchester, was a strong and sporty girl who had wanted to be a teacher. She was at college and worked for a graphics firm.

Kelly had started a secretive relationship with Smith when she was 14 or 15.

Although she feared her parents' disappointment in the age difference, she eventually moved in with Smith at his two-bedroom semi-detached house in Furnival Road, Gorton. She briefly split up with him but returned to the home in November 1995.

Her parents, Margaret and Thomas, had become increasingly concerned about her welfare and noticed bruises and a bite mark which she passed off as an accident.

At Christmas she gave up her job and her mother noted she was sometimes strange during telephone conversations.

In March, Kelly failed to sign cards for her parents' wedding anniversary and for her father's birthday.

Mr Openshaw said: ``The family heard nothing more from her after those cards in March. Little is known about the last month in her life. She was, in effect, a prisoner in her home.''

On April 16, Smith went to Gorton Police Station and said he had killed his girlfriend.

He told officers that during an argument, while she was in the bath, she had swallowed water. He said she often pretended to be unconscious but he had been back two or three times to check.

Pc Tracy Turner told the court how Smith had said ``I've killed her. I know I have.''

He told another officer: ``I know I'm going away. I know there is no point. I'm going to get found out anyway.''

A pathologist, Dr William Lowler, told the court that although he had examined 600 murder victims, he had never seen any with so many injuries of such varied age.

The trial, which was adjourned until today, is expected to last 10 days.