Jury retires to consider verdict in attempted murder trial

PUBLISHED: 14:51 06 March 2019

Bristol Crown Court.

Bristol Crown Court.


The jury has retired to consider its verdicts in the trial of a 17-year-old boy accused of raping and attempting to murder a 10-year-old girl.

The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admits choking and sexually assaulting the girl in Exmouth, Devon, on October 4.

He denies raping the girl - whom he did not know - while she was unconscious, and leaving her to die in a stream.

Mr Justice Garnham sent the panel at Bristol Crown Court to begin their deliberations at 1.20pm on Wednesday (March 6).

“This is a case that will inevitably provoke emotions,” he told the jury.

“It is agreed that the defendant, then aged 16, assaulted the victim, a girl aged 10, as she walked home from school.

“It is likely that many of you will have strong feelings about what happened but this is a court of law and it is essential that you reach your decisions based on the evidence.

“You may feel sympathy. You may feel disgust. But you must not judge the case based on sympathy or disgust, however understandable.

“Instead, you must judge the case on the evidence.”

The judge told jurors that the prosecution brought the case against the defendant and had to prove that he was guilty of the charges.

“The only way the prosecution can succeed in proving the defendant’s guilt is by making you sure of it,” he said.

“If you are not sure, your verdict must be not guilty.”

The jury listened to closing speeches by Anna Vigars QC, for the prosecution, and Richard Smith QC for the defence.

Mrs Vigars said the defendant believed the girl was dead and he had ‘done what he set out to do’.

She described his account that he inadvertently rendered the girl unconscious by slipping while restraining her by the neck as ‘nonsense’.

“He thought she was dead and he meant for her to be dead,” Mrs Vigars told the jury.

Mr Smith said the boy restrained the girl in ‘an impulsive blurt of emotion’ with the intention of sexually assaulting her.

He told the jury that the boy’s guilty pleas to sexually assaulting the girl and choking her in order to do so would be dealt with separately.

“This is about whether that young boy should be held criminally responsible for the things he says he didn’t do,” he told the jury.

Forensic scientists have said it is not possible to determine from scientific evidence in the case whether the girl was raped or sexually assaulted.

The boy denies attempted murder, attempting to choke with intent to commit rape, and rape of a child under 13.

The trial continues.

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