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MURDERED GIRL'S BODY SET ALIGHT

A 17-YEAR-OLD girl was lured to an isolated country lane at Castle Hedingham where she was killed, doused in petrol and set alight, a court heard.

Shortly before the girl's death a witness heard screaming and the words "Stop. Don't do it," prosecutor Martyn Levett told a murder trial jury at Chelmsford Crown Court.

Debra Carne's charred body was found in a leafy lay-by, not far from her home at Swan Court, Sible Hedingham, by a man returning home from work who noticed the flicker of flames in the hedgerow.

Steven Wood (20), of Parker Way, Halstead, Kerry Bauer (19), of St Michael's Road, Braintree, and Nicole Hollinshead (18), of Ravens Avenue, Halstead, have denied the murder of Debra Carne on July 28 last year. They have also pleaded not guilty to conspiring to inflict grievous bodily harm on Miss Carne.

Hollinshead further denies attempting to impede the arrest of others by burning items belonging to Debra Carne.

The jury was told that Emma Last (18), of St Michael's Road, Braintree, had admitted charge of murder.

The court heard that when Miss Carne's body was found, her wristwatch had melted and stopped at 10:07pm, fixed by the heat.

The cause of Debra's death was not ignition by fire, but asphyxiation, said Mr Levett. A senior pathologist would suggest that she died through the blocking of her nose and mouth by an armlock or someone putting a hand over her mouth and nose, possibly to stop her screaming.

The court heard that Wood and Hollinshead were boyfriend and girlfriend but they had a tiff on July 21 last year and separated. Three days later Wood spoke to Debra Carne's mother and indicated that he had dumped Nicola for Debra.

Wood stayed overnight with Debra at her mother's flat in Sible Hedingham.

The next day Hollinshead, "somewhat obsessively" called Wood 24 times on his mobile phone in two hours.

Debra herself received abusive text messages from Hollinshead and she made a complaint to the police that day about the harassing telephone calls.

Mr Levett said by July 26 it appeared that Wood and Hollinshead had got back together again.

They went to stay with Hollinshead's girlfriend Emma Last and her friend Kerry Bauer in a flat at The Foyer Hostel, Braintree.

Hollinshead was suspicious of the relationship which had formed between Wood and Miss Carne and she quizzed Wood about who had made advances to whom.

Mr Levett alleged that, while staying at the flat that weekend, the four defendants hatched a plan to seriously injure Debra Carne. Last said she would throw petrol over Debra and set fire to her. She would stab Debra as well.

On Sunday, July 28, Wood left the flat to get some cigarettes from a garage and Last threw an empty plastic bottle at him and told him to fill it with petrol, which he did.

At 9.35pm Wood made a 12-second phone call to Debra which proved to be the phone call that cost her her life, said Mr Levett. Debra's mother told her not to go out to meet Wood but she was adamant.

She left with a mobile phone and dictation machine in her handbag because she wanted to record the conversation between her and Wood to prove to Hollinshead that she was the one who was telling the truth and he was the one who was lying about the advances.

Wood drove Debra to a dark, leafy and isolated location at Castle Hedingham where he had earlier dropped off Last and Bauer who were "laying in wait to ambush Debra," alleged Mr Levett.

Debra was dragged from the passenger side of the car. A woman living nearby heard a lot of screaming and the words, "Stop. Don't do it." Bauer later told police she threw petrol over Debra, but it was Last who set fire to her.

Mr Levett said Wood, Bauer and Last returned to the hostel and changed their clothing.

They then drove, with Hollinshead, to a field 30 miles away at Ramsden Heath, near Chelmsford, where they burned their own clothing and property belonging to Debra. It was an attempt to destroy any evidence linking them to the killing, said Mr Levett.

 
 
 

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