The mother of a British teen who was raped and killed in India has told of the chilling moment she realised her daughter’s life had come to a violent end.
Scarlett Keeling’s bruised and half-naked body was found on the shores of Anjuna beach in Goa in February 2008.
After police claimed the 15-year-old schoolgirl had drowned, her mum, Fiona MacKeown, went to the scene to see it for herself, and found Scarlett’s shorts, bikini bottoms and a broken sandal close by.
It was then that the shocked mum realised her daughter’s death had been violent – and it led to her 11-year fight for justice.
Ms MacKeown 55, from Holsworthy, Devon, said the police told her that her daughter, a strong swimmer, had drowned in an accident.
The mum told the Sun: “Being British, I believed what the police had told me.”
She later visited the scene and found her daughter’s clothing.
She added: “I knew then there had been violence. I knew the police had lied to me and not looked for any evidence. It was right there.
“I was so shocked, it made the ends of my fingers ache.”
She also sneaked into the morgue to photograph her daughter’s bruised and battered body.
At the time of her death, Scarlett had been staying with a local tour guide and his aunts with her mum’s permission. The rest of the family had travelled on to Karnataka as the teen attended a Valentine’s Day beach party in Anjuna.
She had been raped and deliberately drowned after being plied with drugs.
Two local men were charged with rape and murder but acquitted in 2016.
Ms MacKeown pressed for an appeal and the case was sent to a higher court.
Samson D’Souza was convicted on Wednesday of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, and jailed for 10 years on Friday.
He was also found guilty of assault, destruction of evidence and providing drugs to Scarlett.
The court upheld the acquittal of the other suspect.
Scarlett had travelled to India for a six-month family holiday on the Goa hippy trail with her bohemian mother and six of her eight brothers and sisters.
A first post-mortem examination ruled she died of accidental drowning.
But Ms MacKoewn put pressure on the Indian authorities to carry out another post mortem, which revealed she was raped and murdered.
She had multiple cuts to her body and there were signs of sexual assault. Ecstasy, cocaine and LSD were found in her body.
D’Souza and another suspect, Placido Carvalho, who worked at a nearby beach shack, were arrested along with a third man who was questioned over supplying drugs.
A Goan police officer who first investigated the death was also dismissed.
D’Souza and Carvalho were cleared in 2016 but the Central Bureau of Investigation appealed against the verdict and the High Court took up the case in 2017.
Ms MacKeown told PA earlier this week: “I’m actually still reeling. I can’t quite believe that it’s going to be over.
“It’s happening. It’s taking it’s time to sink in that this is finally going to be over.
“Our lives have been on hold, well for me anyway. It’s different for the children.
“They’ve been getting on with their lives by growing up. But it’s been traumatic.
“Whenever I go to India they’re always worried about what will happen to me.
“We are definitely going to be celebrating tonight with a bottle of bubbly.”