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Thursday, April 22, 1999 Published at 00:32 GMT 01:32 UK


Schizophrenic 'tortured to death'

Angela Pearce was buried in a disused cemetery

A gang of five young people tortured an 18-year-old schizophrenic to death and then buried her in a shallow grave, a court has heard.

The BBC's Richard Wells: Angela Pearce described as generous but vulnerable
Angela Pearce was lured back to a flat in Leeds by the gang to give her drink and abuse her, Leeds Crown Court heard on Wednesday.

The jury was told Miss Pearce had been kicked and punched, had cigarettes stubbed out on her body and her hair set on fire.

Malcolm Swift QC, prosecuting, also said Miss Pearce was urinated on.

'Suffocated by bag'

He said six days of torture took place over the Easter week last year at a Leeds flat where some of the gang lived.

The prosecuting agent said the beatings were so ferocious that Miss Pearce's eyes had swollen up "to the size of tennis balls".

The court also heard the victim was jumped on and kicked, beaten round the head with a snooker cue and put in a cupboard, where she was suffocated with a plastic bag.

[ image: Miss Pearce's eyes swelled up
Miss Pearce's eyes swelled up "to the size of tennis balls"
Meina Latif, 18, Claire Latif, 20, Mark Francom, 22, Christopher Bevis, 18, and a 17-year-old girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, all deny murder.

They also deny causing grievous bodily harm with intent and false imprisonment.

Claire Latif and the 17-year-old girl also deny robbing Miss Pearce of jewellery.

Mr Swift said Miss Pearce had been "cruelly and systematically tortured and beaten to death".

"The female defendants knew that Angela was not normal and decided to take her back to their flat in order to get her drunk and abuse her."

'Body in the cupboard'

He continued: "She was lured back to the flat and beaten and tortured to death over a period of six days.

"Each of the defendants took the view that Angela would not and could not be allowed to leave alive."

The jury heard that in the early hours of 15 April last year Mr Bevis was told the 18-year-old girl had put a plastic bag over Miss Pearce's head and that she was dead.

Two of the gang went to bed while the others watched TV, leaving the body in the cupboard, Mr Swift said.

He explained how Mr Francom and Mr Bevis went to a disused cemetery and dug a grave on Meina Latif's birthday.

Taxi driver link

The girls watched the grave being dug, and when the job was completed Mr Francom rolled Miss Pearce up in a carpet to carry her to the cemetery.

The jury heard Mr Francom later told a taxi driver, who happened to know Miss Pearce's boyfriend, that he had heard about a girl who had been reported missing as being buried in the cemetery.

Mr Francom was tracked down by the taxi driver and Miss Pearce's boyfriend and they contacted the police.

The police located Miss Pearce's body, and a post-mortem examination revealed she had died from extensive injuries.

The trial was adjourned until Thursday, and is expected to last six weeks.

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