An Indian court has convicted a beach shack worker for raping and murdering a British teenager from Devon in 2008 in Goa, a popular tourist destination on the country’s south west coast.
The Goa bench of the Bombay High court on Wednesday held Samson D’Souza, 36, guilty on all five counts of drugging, raping and murdering 15-year old Scarlett Keeling on north Goa’s Anjuna beach, after she had attended a belated Valentine’s Day party over 11 years ago.
But a second man, Placido Carvalho, similarly accused of leaving Scarlett to die after drugging and sexually abusing her has been acquitted.
Both men, who had worked at the Curlies’ beach shack patronised by foreign tourists in Anjuna, were the last to be seen with Scarlett before she died.
The High Court was hearing an appeal filed by India’s Central Bureau of Investigation or CBI against the acquittal of the two men by a children’s court in Goa in 2016.
Scarlett’s bruised and half-naked body was found on Anjuna beach and a post-mortem revealed a cocktail of drugs including ecstasy, cocaine and LSD in her system.
The Goa police initially sought to close the case as an accidental drowning of a ‘druggie’ tourist, but the fierce campaign by Scarlett’s mother Fiona MacKeown and pressure from local and foreign media outlets led to the case being handed over to the federal CBI.
A second post-mortem proved that the teenager had indeed been drugged and raped and further investigations led to D’Souza and Carvalho being arrested and charged with rape and culpable homicide.
However, in 2016 a local court in Goa acquitted them both, following which the CBI went in appeal to the Bombay High Court around two years ago.
“It’s been eight years of agony,” Mrs Mackeown said after the acquittal verdict by the Goa court. "India’s entire judicial system has let me down."
Foreign tourists annually flock to Goa’s beaches.
In 2017, Danielle McLaughlin, a 27-year old Irish national was attacked and killed in Goa. Her alleged killer was arrested and charged soon after, his trial continues with little idea of when it is likely to conclude.
“Families of several victims like Scarlett have been known to simply walk away exhausted by India’s slow and inefficient judicial processes” said New Delhi criminal lawyer Malavika Rajkotia.
It’s also hugely expensive for them to pursue the cases by travelling frequently to India from their countries, she added.
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