British Teen Found Guilty Of Burning His Girlfriend Alive

by Gopalan on  December 3, 2009 at 10:14 AM Medico Legal News   - G J E 4
 British Teen Found Guilty Of Burning His Girlfriend Alive
In a case more reminiscent of the third world, a British teenager has been found guilty of burning his girlfriend alive.

Stewart Blackburn, 18, was convicted by a unanimous verdict after a 10-day trial at the High Court in Livingston.

His girlfriend Jessica McCagh, 17, died in hospital on 25 April after the attack at the Arbroath flat she shared with Blackburn.

After an argument Blackburn had poured petrol over his victim, set it alight and held a door closed to prevent Jessica escaping from the blaze in the bedroom.

He had claimed that the fire started from burning embers dropping from a cannabis cigarette.

But expert witnesses told the court that was very unlikely and produced evidence to indicate the petrol must have been lit by a naked flame.

The attack left Jessica, a former pupil at Arbroath High School, with burns on up to 85% of her body. She died later the same day at Dundee's Ninewells Hospital.

The court heard that her final words, spoken to her father hours earlier, were: "I don't want to die, dad - I love you."

Blackburn - who will be sentenced next month - denied murder but had admitted culpable homicide. That is, he admits to 'unlawful killing' but without any intention to kill. The section attracts lesser punishment than murder.

Judge Lord Bracadale said: "She was your girlfriend, aged 17 years, and she died a terrible death at your hands. Her family are left bereft. These acts demonstrate a degree of wickedness on your part which will leave all right-thinking people deeply disturbed."

Solicitor-General Frank Mulholland QC, prosecuting, on Tuesday told jurors: "It is difficult to envisage more cruel or sadistic treatment of another human being." He said Blackburn had committed "a barbaric and evil act against a defenceless young woman".

The unanimous verdict was greeted with cries of "Yes" from the packed public gallery.

The victim's friends and family linked arms, while her parents Garry and Marion McCagh shed tears. Blackburn dropped his head but showed little emotion as the jury's verdict was read out.

The teenager now faces life behind bars after being found guilty of murder. Sentence was deferred to January 5 at the High Court in Edinburgh.

Jessica's parents said their daughter had been murdered in a "terrible and terrifying way".

"We want to thank the police and the prosecution for bringing Blackburn to justice today for his wicked actions," they said.

"We also want to thank Ricci Foreman for trying to save Jessica - we will always be grateful to him for his bravery

Jessica was the baby of the family. We miss everything about her and we always will."

Neighbour Denise Stephenson described Blackburn as being violent and said she often heard him arguing with Jessica.

"He was pretty vicious, but I didn't expect him to go to the lengths that he did," she added.

"Poor Jessica."

Source: Medindia

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