Kidnap and torture gang found guilty of schoolgirl's murder
Saturday March 18, 2006
Four men who kidnapped, tortured and raped a 16-year-old girl were found guilty of her murder at Reading crown court yesterday. Mary-Ann Leneghan was put through a horrific ordeal before she was murdered, the jury heard during the eight week long trial.
Adrian Thomas, 20, Jamaile Morally, 22, Joshua Morally, 23, and Llewellyn Adams, 24, all from London, were convicted by the jury of killing the Irish schoolgirl in May 2005.
A fifth man, Michael Johnson, 19, pleaded guilty to murder earlier in the trial.
Jurors heard how Mary-Ann was abducted, raped and forced to take heroin and crack cocaine before being stabbed to death in a park.
Her 18-year-old friend, who cannot be named for legal reasons, survived the ordeal despite being shot in the head.
Mary-Ann and her friend had been sitting in a car in a pub car park when they were kidnapped. They were bundled into a car boot and driven to a guesthouse, where the men booked a room.
According to accounts given by the friend, who was chief witness for the prosecution, the men put towels on the floor as soon as they entered to avoid leaving traces of blood.
Richard Latham QC, prosecuting, said the two girls were then subjected to "a concentrated sequence of controlled acts of violence and degradation" over a long period. They were made to strip, were hit with a pole, cut with knives, and raped. A gun was put into the 18-year-old's mouth while the men laughed.
The men crowded round her while she was on all fours and told her they were going to cut off part of her genitals and feed it to her.
The girls were taken to Reading's Prospect Park, where a pillowcase was placed over Mary-Ann's head. She was then repeatedly stabbed to death.
A pillowcase was also placed over her friend's head. A loaded gun was placed against her forehead and discharged. She fell unconscious and was left for dead.
Mr Latham said the men had targeted Mary-Ann and her friend in revenge for setting up Thomas to be robbed the previous month.
The court heard that Thomas was renting a flat in Reading and became known to Mary-Ann and her friends. He was assaulted and his belongings stolen from the flat.
Mr Latham said: "Thomas believed Mary-Ann had set him up for that robbery. During their ordeal, the girls were asked by those there if they had stolen their drugs. And they were asked: 'How did you expect us to let you get away with it?' They were told they must have known they [the men] would come for them."
Mr Latham told the jury that, based on evidence from Mary-Ann's friend, the psychological torture was intended to continue until the moment of death.
In Mary-Ann's case, the jury heard, the men wanted her to die slowly. Some of the men asked Thomas for permission to burn or stab the two girls.
The two girls were forced to perform sex acts on each other, and, said Mr Latham, a "pack mentality" developed among the men.
Mr Latham said the friend was told her own last memory was to be the sight of Mary-Ann being butchered in the park. He told the jury that in the room the girls were repeatedly told they were to be killed.
"We say that not only were these two girls raped in that room, they were physically and psychologically tortured. It is difficult to imagine anything more awful than being notified that at the end of the physical assaults that you are suffering and have been going on for hours, not minutes, that you are going to die."
Mary-Ann's friend wept audibly as the verdicts were read out in court and had to be comforted by loved ones. She had detailed her ordeal to a packed courtroom, after facing her attackers for the first time, and returned to court each day to hear the trial unfold.
Jurors have yet to reach a verdict on charges of murder and attempted murder against Indrit Krasniqi, 18. He has been convicted of raping both girls and assaulting Mary-Ann's friend.
The judge, Mr Justice Penry-Davey, has asked the jury to return on Monday to continue their deliberations on Krasniqi, from London.
All six men faced counts of kidnap, rape, murder, attempted murder of the older girl and assault. Thomas and Morally were found guilty of attempted murder, kidnap, rape of Mary-Ann, rape of her friend and assault on the friend. Morally was also found guilty of an additional count of rape on the older girl.
His brother Joshua was additionally convicted of attempted murder and rape of both girls. He admitted kidnap and assault on the older girl. Johnson was convicted of raping both girls and assaulting the older girl. Adams was also found guilty of attempted murder and kidnap of both girls, but was cleared of rape and assault.
The men will be sentenced later.