Indian bartender jailed for 10 years over British teen's murder

Samson D'Souza handed maximum sentence for drugging and killing Scarlett Keeling on a Goa beach in 2008.

    Indian bartender jailed for 10 years over British teen's murder
    Keeling's death made international headlines and shone a spotlight on the seedy side of the resort destination [Oinam Anand/The Associated Press]

    A court in India has sentenced a bartender to 10 years in prison for drugging and killing a British schoolgirl whose body was found on a beach in the western state of Goa in 2008.

    Mumbai High Court Justices R D Dhanuka and Prithviraj Chavan handed Samson D'Souza the maximum sentence on Friday for culpable homicide, provision of drugs and destruction of evidence, two days after overturning his acquittal in the attack on 15-year-old Scarlett Keeling.

    The acquittal of a second suspect, Placido Carvalho, in the teen's death was upheld on Wednesday.

    Keeling's bruised and half-naked body was found in shallow water on Anjuna beach in Goa in February 2008. 

    The teenager's death caused outrage among the millions of tourists who throng the beaches of the popular resort state on India's west coast.

    'Justice served'

    D'Souza's sentencing came after an 11-year battle for justice by Keeling's mother Fiona MacKeown.

    Police initially dismissed the teen's death as an accidental drowning but opened a murder investigation after her MacKeown pushed for a second autopsy which proved she had been drugged and raped.

    It showed that Keeling had suffered more than 50 injuries to her body.

    A trial court acquitted both accused in 2016, saying there was not enough evidence to convict them. The High Court took up the case in 2017 after an appeal by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

    "It's been a long 10 years of waiting for justice. It felt like they had sentenced us instead," MacKeown told AFP news agency.

    "It is an important verdict and I am glad justice has finally been served," the 55-year-old said.

    Vikram Varma, a lawyer representing Keeling's mother, Fiona MacKeown, said he was satisfied with the sentencing. 

    "Ten years is an appropriate punishment for anyone indulging in child abuse of this gravity," Varma told the AFP in Panaji, the capital of Goa state. 

    Under Indian law, both the accused and prosecutors can appeal a trial court's verdict to the High Court and the Supreme Court.

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    SOURCE: News agencies