Sat | Aug 13, 2022

17-year-old found guilty of rape, murder of Westmoreland schoolgirl

Published:Friday | July 1, 2022 | 3:25 PM
High Court judge Justice Countney Daye is to hand down sentencing on July 28. 

The 17-year-old boy charged with the rape, buggery and murder of a nine-year-old schoolgirl four years ago in Westmoreland was today found guilty. 

The guilty verdict was returned by the six-member jury in the Westmoreland Circuit Court this afternoon after 1 hour and 30 minutes of deliberation.

High Court judge Justice Countney Daye is to hand down sentencing on July 28. 

The prosecution was led by Director of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewellyn QC with support Loriann Tugwell and Rennelle Morgan.

Defence attorneys Devon Brown and Denley Saddoo are representing the teen.

During the trial, the court heard that on June 5, 2018, the nine-year-old girl was sexually assaulted and killed by the teen, who was 13 at the time and who lived near her, after she accepted his invitation to pick apples as they walked home from school. 

A pathologist testified last week that the girl died of asphyxia caused by manual strangulation and that she had lacerations of the vagina and anus. 

On Wednesday, the head of the DNA unit at the Government's Institute of Forensic Science and Legal Medicine provided forensic evidence that material found in the anus of the schoolgirl matched the DNA of the teen.

This was arrived at after testing and comparing samples with material taken from the fingernails and the underpants of the teen.

At the same time, a forensic DNA expert testified that there was no evidence connecting the teen and the vagina of the schoolgirl and that the hair was found on a fence.

The defence lawyers had argued that the teen was innocent.

They argued that the police failed to properly investigate the case to bring to justice the appropriate perpetrators.

The teen, in an unsworn statement, admitted that he had sexual intercourse with the girl in her vagina and not her anus.

He said that he was forced to do so after he was held up by two men, one carrying a machete and the other a gun. 

He said he knew one of the men.

- Albert Ferguson 

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