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Friday, May 28, 1999 Published at 14:05 GMT 15:05 UK


UK

Friends jailed for torture killing

Clockwise: the Latif sisters, Harker, Bevis and Francom

Five friends have been found guilty of murdering an 18-year-old schizophrenic woman by torturing her for six days.


Phil Connell reports: "For the parents Angela Pearce the five week trial has been a harrowing ordeal"
Three members of the gang were jailed at Her Majesty's pleasure and the other two were sentenced to life imprisonment.

Angela Pearce was hit her over the head with a snooker cue, kicked, punched and had her hair set on fire during her ordeal at a council flat in Leeds.

After her murder in April last year, the gang buried her in a disused cemetery.

Sisters Meina Latif, 18, and Claire Latif, 20, Mark Francom, 23, and Christopher Bevis, 18, were also found guilty of false imprisonment.


[ image: Angela was a diagnosed schizophrenic]
Angela was a diagnosed schizophrenic
During the trial Nolene Harker, 17, admitted false imprisonment.

The jury at Leeds Crown Court also found Claire Latif and Harker guilty of robbing Miss Pearce of her jewellery.

As the jury foreman gave the verdicts the five showed no emotion.

Passing sentence Mrs Justice Steel said: "This is an exceptional case of cold-blooded murder."


The BBC's Phil Connell: "An evil and horrific crime"
Harker, Bevis and Meina Latif were jailed at Her Majesty's Pleasure and the judge said that she would recommend extremely long jail terms. Claire Latif and Francom were jailed for life.

'Loathsome'

Afterwards Miss Pearce's mother, Irene Simmons, said the trial had been a "harrowing ordeal".


[ image: Angela's mother:
Angela's mother: "Harrowing ordeal"
"The verdict would never have been enough as I believe it should be a life for a life. I will live the rest of my lifetime knowing they still have a life," she said.

Detective Inspector George Phillips said it was "an extraordinary case".

He added: "The murder of Angela Pearce was loathsome in the extreme and my thoughts at this time are with the family.

"Angela was a young and vulnerable girl and she had her whole life to look forward to."

Lured to flat

The court had been told that the female members of the gang knew Miss Pearce was mentally ill and lured her to their flat in Cherry Court, Mabgate, Leeds, on 9 April last year.

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

The five laughed and joked as they tortured Miss Pearce, of Skelton Terrace, Leeds, to death.

They hid Miss Pearce behind a sofa, putting music on to drown out her moaning when visitors arrived.

She was then put in a kitchen cupboard. The beatings continued and she was then suffocated with a plastic bag.

The gang decided that Miss Pearce "would not and could not be allowed to leave the flat alive", said Malcolm Swift QC, prosecuting.





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