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Last Updated: Monday, 15 December, 2003, 20:24 GMT
Man guilty of Isle of Man murders
By Chris Summers
BBC News Online

Samantha Barton
Samantha Barton: Troubled childhood
A slaughterhouse worker has been convicted of double murder on the Isle of Man.

Peter Newbery, 23, faces life in jail for killing two teenage friends in the grounds of a children's home.

Samantha Barton and George Green, both 16 and in care, were sexually assaulted and strangled with a pair of shoelaces in February 2002.

The Manx Government is due to call a public inquiry into childcare on the island in the wake of the trial.

As the verdicts were announced on Monday, Samantha's uncle Tom Barton stood up and shouted, "Merry Christmas, Sam and George are laughing at you."

The judge, Deemster Simon Fawcus, told the family to show some restraint, before remanding Newbery in custody until sentencing next month.

The sad life of Samantha
1986: Born, suffering from spina bifida
1997: Becomes centre of a row after being jailed for assaulting social workers
Feb 2002: Murdered in her cottage in the grounds of social services complex

Samantha was killed in a halfway house called Leece Lodge Two near the island's capital, Douglas, and George was found dumped in a field half a mile away.

DNA and bloodstains on the shoelaces and at the murder scene linked Newbery to both crimes.

But at his trial Newbery's defence team claimed there was insufficient evidence to link him and claimed there were numerous people who may have had a motive to kill the teenagers.

'Halfway house'

Samantha, who went into care at the age of 10, hit the national newspaper headlines when she was 12 and was imprisoned in the island's jail after assaulting several of her social workers.

She was later sent to a children's home in Wales, but by the age of 16 she was back on the island and had been given her own "halfway house" cottage on the Leece Lodge complex on the outskirts of Douglas.

George Green
George Green's body was found in a field

Newbery's trial at the Isle of Man Courts of Justice (Quaiylyn Cairys Ellan Vannin) heard how Samantha, her elder sister Lyndsay and their small circle of friends shoplifted regularly to pay for drugs.

They would bring stolen clothes, CDs and other items back to Samantha's home, known as Leece Lodge Two, where they would be bartered in exchange for drugs.

Attack

The day before she died Samantha invited George Green, Newbery and another friend back to the house to smoke cannabis.

The following day Newbery, a former boyfriend of Samantha's, returned to the house and attacked her and George.

We are sure we have got the right man, and he is a seriously disturbed individual
Chief Inspector Gary Roberts
George, who was also in social services care and had been placed at a school in Cumbria, had returned for Christmas 2001 and refused to go back.

Six weeks later, when the murders occurred, he was living with his parents because social services had failed to cajole him into going back.

Samantha Barton hit the headlines in 1997
Legislation since introduced in the island's parliament, the Tynwald, would have given social services the power to force him to go back to the school in Cumbria.

Since the murders Manx Social Services has also opened a new 2.1m secure unit at Braddan to house the most "difficult" children on the island.

Crack cocaine

In court, Newbery said he had had sex with Samantha in a cemetery the night before she died, but said he had nothing to do with her death and claimed it was connected with stolen drugs.

Lyndsay Barton, a recovering heroin addict who was in prison at the time of the murders, told the trial that the day before the murders her sister came to visit her in jail and told her about finding a rock of what she thought was crack cocaine in a rucksack on her doorstep.

Miss Barton said her sister had talked about selling the crack but she said: "I told her to hide it or bury it, just get rid of it."

Iain Glen QC, for Newbery, also pointed out that on the same day as George and Samantha died police found two other bodies in and around Douglas.

Gary Boland was found washed up on the beach at Onchan and Paul McCafferty, a heroin addict, was found hanging from a door at his flat.

The courthouse in Douglas
The jury returned after only three hours' deliberation
Both men were part of the island's criminal and drug-taking community and Lyndsay Barton said she knew both men.

But Chief Inspector Gary Roberts, of the Isle of Man Constabulary, told BBC News Online these were "red herrings".

He said: "Every one of those were eliminated, which reinforces the forensic evidence against Newbery.

"We are sure we have got the right man, and he is a seriously disturbed individual."

Mr Roberts said at the time of the murders Newbery was on bail for an attack which had a "strikingly similar" modus operandi.




SEE ALSO:
Nurses guilty of death by neglect
27 Oct 03  |  England


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