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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 April, 2004, 20:42 GMT 21:42 UK
Women killed teenage love rival
Debra Carne
Debra Carne's burned body was left in a lay-by
An Essex woman has been found guilty of the murder of a teenage girl who was doused in petrol and set alight in a row over a boyfriend.

Debra Carne, 17, was left burning in an isolated lay-by close to her home in Sible Hedingham in July 2002.

Tests showed she had been asphyxiated before being set alight.

On Wednesday at Chelmsford Crown Court Kerry Bauer, 21, of Braintree, was convicted of murder. Emma Last, 18, of Braintree, had earlier admitted murder.

A third defendant, Steven Wood, 23, of Halstead, Essex, was found guilty of manslaughter but acquitted of murder.

Nicole Hollinshead, 19, also of Halstead, was also acquitted of murder and found guilty of conspiracy to inflict grievous bodily harm.

Nicole Hollinshead and Steven Wood
The love row involved Nicole Hollinshead and Steven Wood

They will all be sentenced on 21 April.

During a six week trial the jury heard how the defendants had hatched a plot to ambush Miss Carne after a row over the affections of Steven Wood.

Wood and Hollinshead had been living together but had separated before Wood spent a night at the home Miss Carne shared with her mother.

The prosecution said Hollinshead became jealous and after Miss Carne told her Wood had made advances towards her, a plot started to hatch.

Wood, who denied making advances, and Hollinshead rekindled their relationship and with support from Last and Bauer, devised a plan to "get their own back."

On 28 July 2002, Wood filled an empty bottle with petrol at a garage and then called Miss Carne to lure her to a lay-by where Bauer and Last were waiting to attack her.

Debra was lured to her death by a man who four days before had said he loved her
Roger Carne, Debra's father

Hollinshead waited at the hostel where Last and Bauer lived in Braintree to provide the other three with alibis.

Miss Carne was killed 15 minutes after leaving her home.

Prosecuting Martyn Levett said Bauer admitted to police she had thrown petrol over Miss Carne and that Last had set her alight.

After the killing the three drove back to Braintree to meet with Hollinshead and then all four drove 30 miles from where Miss Carne had died to burn her handbag and destroy the clothes the killers had been wearing.

Following the verdicts Miss Carne's father Roger, said: "My daughter Debra died needlessly at the hands of selfish, callous individuals.

Kerry Bauer
Bauer will be sentenced on 21 April with the other three offenders

"Debra was lured to her death by a man who four days before had said he loved her. She was murdered and burned while this man sat in his car and did nothing."

Miss Carne's mother, Heather Knight, added: "I can't explain how much I miss my Debra. All I know is how much I'm hurting inside and no-one will ever know that.

"She meant the world to me".

Detective Superintendent Win Bernard, who led the investigation into the killing, said "evil and despicable" were the only words to describe the murder of Debra Carne and those responsible.

"What begs belief is how anyone can take a life in such an horrific and premeditated manner over something so trivial as a typical teenage event," he said.

"Teenagers fall out all the time over their relationships. For it to culminate in the death of a 17-year-old girl is bizarre," he said.

Teenager killed and set on fire
25 Feb 04  |  Essex



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