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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 October, 2004, 12:57 GMT 13:57 UK
Teenager guilty of girl's murder
Rosie May Storrie
Rosie was found face down on a bed
A teenager has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of a 10-year-old girl at a Christmas party.

Paul Smith, 18, of Sedgebrook, Lincs, denied killing Rosie May Storrie at the party in Leicestershire last year.

The jury at Nottingham Crown Court heard she was found face down on a bed as her parents chatted with guests downstairs at the house in Normanton.

The judge ordered Smith, who suffers from Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism, should serve at least 14 years.

I am sure that you are and have been for some time now a considerable danger to young girls
Mr Justice Astill
Sentencing Smith, High Court Judge Mr Justice Astill said: "You made a determined attack upon this young child, long enough and forcefully enough to overcome the considerable struggle which she put up to survive to prevent you from suffocating her.

"I have no doubt that your reason was sexual.

"Once you had overcome her you stripped her clothing from her and it is reasonable on all the evidence I have heard to assume that it was the shouts of your family wondering where you were that stopped you going further."
Paul Smith (middle) flanked by prison officers
Paul Smith: Made a "determined attack"

He added: "I do not know if this disturbing part of your personality arises from the condition from which you undoubtedly suffer but I am sure that you are and have been for some time now a considerable danger to young girls."

Speaking after the verdict, Rosie May's mother Mary Storrie, 42, who runs a nanny agency, said her daughter could have been saved if Smith had faced charges following a previous abduction case.

She said: "If there had been a conviction then obviously he would not have been there at that party on that night.

"That information should have been in the public domain to warn every parent, every member of the public that he was a danger."

Graham and Mary Storrie
Graham and Mary Storrie outside Nottingham Crown Court
Her husband Graham said: "If there had been some honesty, even a quiet warning to watch Paul Smith we would still have Rosie May with us right now."

Smith, who denied murdering Rosie May, said he did not see the girl upstairs at the party.

Bullied at school for his stilted speech and learning difficulties, it was said in court that Smith was always seen as the "odd kid".

The court heard that when Rosie May started making fun of the older boy, he lost control and smothered her.

Despite attempts to resuscitate her, the youngster from Bottesford in Leics died 36 hours later.

There is no evidence to suggest that people with Asperger syndrome are more likely to break the law than anyone in the general population
National Autistic Society
His parents, Nigel and Susan Smith, claimed from the start their "vulnerable" son had been blamed for the killing because he was an "easy target".

After the verdict they said they were considering an appeal and added: "We are deeply upset and shocked by this verdict.

"We remain convinced that Paul played no part in the death of Rosie May and we will continue the fight to clear his name."

In the wake of the judge's comments a National Autistic Society spokesman Stuart Notholt said: "There is no evidence to suggest that people with Asperger syndrome are more likely to break the law than anyone in the general population.

"Our helpline receives many calls from individuals and families who are affected by Asperger syndrome who have regular problems with the criminal justice system due to a lack of understanding of this condition."




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Rosie May's mother tells of her anguish





FROM OTHER NEWS SITES:
Independent Teenager gets life for murder of 10-year-old girl at party - 32 hrs ago
Guardian Unlimited Rosie's killer gets life - 42 hrs ago
The Sun Teen guilty of Rosie killing - 43 hrs ago
Daily Mail Teen gets life for Rosie May murder - 44 hrs ago
TelegraphRosie May killer gets life - 44 hrs ago
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SEE ALSO:
Family torn apart by murder
28 Oct 04  |  Lincolnshire
Rosie killer had attacked before
28 Oct 04  |  England
Parents deny son went 'missing'
25 Oct 04  |  Leicestershire
Teen denies killing girl at party
22 Oct 04  |  Leicestershire
Accused 'tied girl up on a bed'
19 Oct 04  |  Leicestershire
Teens found girl blue in the face
15 Oct 04  |  Leicestershire
Young witness found girl on bed
14 Oct 04  |  Leicestershire
Girl was smothered in play fight
13 Oct 04  |  Leicestershire


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