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Thursday, April 22, 1999 Published at 18:55 GMT 19:55 UK


Witness describes teen 'torture'

A teenager has told a murder trial that he witnessed an 18-year-old woman being tortured to death for six days by a gang of five - and then helped dig a shallow grave to bury her.

Eighteen-year-old Andrew Gregory saw Angela Pearce receive fatal injuries while she was held in a council flat, Leeds Crown Court was told.

[ image: Angela Pearce: Buried in a disused cemetery]
Angela Pearce: Buried in a disused cemetery
The jury has heard that the gang enticed Miss Pearce back to the flat in Mabgate, Leeds, during the Easter holidays last year.

She was kicked and punched, had cigarettes stubbed out on her face and had her hair set on fire. She was then buried in a grave in a nearby disused cemetery, it was alleged.

The jury was told that the gang laughed and joked during the girl's ordeal.

Meina Latis, 18, Claire Latis, 20, Mark Francom, 22, Christopher Bevis, 18, and a 17-year-old girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, all deny murdering Miss Pearce.

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

Claire Latis and the girl of 17 also deny robbing Miss Pearce of her jewellery.


Mr Gregory, a friend of the gang who stayed at the flat over the Easter holidays, told the jury he saw the 17-year-old punch Miss Pearce in the face.

"I walked out," he said. "When I got back there was blood on the chair, on the 17-year-old's hand and on the blanket."

Mr Gregory said that later Miss Pearce asked for a drink of water.

"The 17-year-old went to get her a drink, but it was not water. It was disinfectant," he said.

"Angela was looking at the television, but I don't think she could see it because her eyes were too swollen."

Mr Gregory told the jury that later Miss Pearce was put behind the sofa. He said that the 17-year-old kicked her more than once and hit her with a snooker cue.

Mr Gregory told the court that the next day he was told that Miss Pearce had been put in the kitchen cupboard.

'Dumping body'

Later in the week, Mr Gregory said a conversation took place about dumping Miss Pearce out of the flat.

"I went out with Mr Bevis to look for a car to steal," he said.

"When I got back Mark told me she was dead.

"I saw Angela's body lying against the wall in the cupboard. It smelled awful. We agreed that we were going to bury her. We went to a bed of grass across from the Mabgate Pub, it was snowing, and we all had a go with the spade. It took about two hours."

Mr Gregory said that he, Mr Bevis and Mr Francom helped dig the grave. They then returned to the flat, wrapped the body in a blanket and took it to the disused cemetery.

Mr Gregory told the jury that on 25 April, police came to the flat and arrested him along with the five accused. He was bailed on suspicion of murder.

The court was told that it was agreed he would not be prosecuted for the disposal of Miss Pearce's body if he gave a witness statement to the police.

Roger Keen, QC, for Ms Latif, suggested that Mr Gregory was blaming other people.

The hearing continues on Friday.

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