The Bombay High Court on Friday sentenced Samson D’Souza, a beach shack worker, to 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment in connection with the rape and murder of British teenager Scarlett Keeling in 2008, PTI reported. The quantum of punishment was pronounced two days after the court convicted D’Souza in the case.
The defendant’s lawyer, Shailendra Bhobe, told the court that D’Souza was the sole earning member of his family. He also said that the convict had served six-and-a-half months in jail while the case was being investigated before the trial.
Bhobe further said that D’Souza had “no other criminal record in the past or in the 11 years the trial was in progress or any other blemishes in his record”. “He has been a scuba diver,” The Indian Express quoted the lawyer as saying. “He is improving himself. He is also teaching scuba diving. There are levels one has to learn and he is constantly improving.”
He argued that the convict had taken up the skill as a means to reform himself. “His daughter was born around the same time,” Bhobe said. “Considering he has picked up a skill, considering he is the father of a girl child, ironic in his case, he has to be given a chance to reform, rather than push him.”
Prosecutor Ejaz Khan highlighted that Section 8(II) of the Goa Children’s Act, under which D’Souza had been found guilty, had a provision for a life sentence. Justice RD Dhanuka stressed on the fact that Goa had its own law to protect children, which made it more significant to set an example that the state was child-friendly.
“This is also a crime that happened in a place which has tourism,” said Vikram Verma, a lawyer representing Keeling’s mother Fiona MacKeown. “The world over child abuse and paedophilia are taken very, very seriously. In this case, reform is not possible.”
Khan and Verma also said that the judgment was important to the girl’s mother who had “suffered severe pain and hardship in a foreign land”.
On Thursday, the court found D’Souza guilty under sections Sections 328 (for administering drugs), 354 (outraging woman’s modesty), 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence) of the Indian Penal Code and for child abuse under section 8(2) of the Goa Children’s Act. It acquitted another accused in the case, Plácido Carvalho.
In February 2008, the 15-year-old’s partially clothed body was found on Anjuna beach. Keeling was from Bideford in Devon, United Kingdom. Initially, the police put her death down to an accident. However, after her mother pushed for a second autopsy, they found that she had been drugged and raped.
In 2016, a children’s court in Goa acquitted the two men of rape and culpable homicide not amounting to murder. Following this, MacKeown had said they would appeal and “definitely move to the higher court” against the judgment.