Scarlett Keeling death: Man convicted of British teenager’s 2008 rape and murder in India’s Goa

Samson D'Souza, who was previously acquitted by a lower court, was found guilty on multiple counts by the Bombay High Court


                            Scarlett Keeling death: Man convicted of British teenager’s 2008 rape and murder in India’s Goa

An Indian high court has convicted a beach shack worker for the 2008 rape and murder of British teenager Scarlett Keeling in the coastal state of Goa.

Samson D'Souza, one of two men accused in the death of the 15-year-old was found guilty of "culpable homicide not amounting to murder," according to the BBC.

Keeling died while she was on a six-month "trip of a lifetime" to India with her family in 2008. 

Fiona MacKeown, Scarlett's mother, told the BBC she was "delighted" by the verdict but was sorry it had taken so long for justice to be done for her daughter.

The teenager from Bideford in Devon was on a six-month "trip of a lifetime" to India with her family. Her bruised body was found on a beach in Goa on February 2008.

Police in the state initially ruled that her death was accidental. However, a campaign by her family eventually saw a second post-mortem examination conducted in March 2008, which revealed she had been drugged and raped before drowning in seawater. The case was then taken up by India's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and D'Souza and another man, Placido Carvalho, were arrested and charged in her rape and death the same month.

MacKeown looking dejected after a lower court initially acquitted both men of their charges (Source: INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images)

However, the trial only started in March 2010, more than two years after her death. Although the case was supposed to last a year, with a total of 72 witnesses expected to testify, it took more than a half-a-decade to play out.

The first delay came when prosecutor SR Rivonkar resigned in February 2011, with the slow pace of witness testimony resulting in further delays. By December 2013, only 30 witnesses had given evidence.

And with the delays in court, MacKeown had to wait four-and-a-half years to bury her daughter. She was finally laid to rest on June 2012, in a garden at the family's home in Devon.

The court heard that Keeling had traces of cocaine, ecstasy, and LSD in her system and that she had suffered 50 separate injuries in the attack, with the prosecution alleging that the defendants had plied her with drugs before raping her.

They said she was left on the beach, unconscious, where she eventually drowned and died. 

Throughout D'Souza and Carvalho maintained their innocence and after more than six years, in September 2016, Judge Vandana Tendulkar at the Goa Children's Court acquitted both men.

The verdict drew widespread criticism in Goa as and the CBI appealed against the judgment.

The case went to the Bombay High Court, which upheld the acquittal of Carvalho and overturned that of D'Souza. 

Besides being found guilty of "culpable homicide not amounting to murder," the high court also found D'Souza guilty of assault, destruction of evidence, and providing narcotics to Keeling, among other charges.

D'Souza is scheduled to be sentenced on Friday.

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