Boys say each other killed 'drunk' woman

A WOMAN was beaten and left to drown in a river by two teenage boys who later bragged about the attack to their friends, a court has heard.

Annie Davidson

A WOMAN was beaten and left to drown in a river by two teenage boys who later bragged about the attack to their friends, a court has heard.

The youths, who cannot be named because of their ages, were 13 and 16-years-old when they allegedly killed Helen Maughan, a mother-of-two from Colchester.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard yesterday that the pair had been drinking throughout the day leading up to the attack on May 18 last year.

The defendants, now aged 17 and 14 and both from Colchester, blamed each other for Miss Maughan's death in police interviews and both deny a charge of murder between May 17 and May 20, 2007.

The jury of six men and six women were told that Miss Maughan's body was spotted in the River Colne, off North Station Road, Colchester, on May 20 last year by a man out walking.

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Police divers recovered Miss Maughan and a post mortem examination found she had died of a combination of head injuries and drowning.

The 24-year-old had 22 separate injuries to her body including her face, neck and genital area.

Prosecutor Sasha Wass told the court Miss Maughan had a “troubled upbringing” and had at one stage in her life been involved with drugs.

She had given birth to two children but both had been taken away from her to be cared for by other people which “caused her great unhappiness” said Miss Wass.

On the day of the alleged murder she had left the flat she shared with her boyfriend Simon Elam and went into Colchester town centre.

Miss Wass told the court Miss Maughan had a history of binge drinking from the age of 14.

On May 18 she had gone to Quilters bar shortly before 3pm and drank there until being ejected at 8.30pm because she was “increasingly drunk”.

Miss Maughan attempted to buy a drink in neighbouring Trotters but staff would not serve her so she went to the Victoria Arms pub also in North Station Road.

After an hour she was asked to leave because she spilt a pint of lager.

Miss Maughan then went to the Marquis of Granby on North Hill and rang her boyfriend to ask if he would join her but he decided not to as the pub was about to close.

This 10.30pm phone call was the last time the couple ever spoke.

The two youths had been drinking together during the day and at just after 10pm they asked an older man to buy some alcohol for them from a local shop.

Miss Wass alleged that at around 11.24pm that night Miss Maughan and the teenagers came across each other on the riverbank next to Quilters bar.

CCTV images are said to capture the trio walking along the river bank. Around an hour and a half later the two boys are alleged to have been filmed walking back without Miss Maughan.

The court heard that after Miss Maughan's body was found police appealed for information using the CCTV images and a number of people recognised both the teenagers.

When the 14-year-old was arrested on July 31, 2007, he allegedly said to police: “I am going to tell you who it is.

“I was there, I was too scared to tell anyone, he was going to kill me otherwise. He has been threatening me ever since. I definitely didn't do it.”

He then gave the name of the older defendant and said that after they shared some beer with Miss Maughan sitting on a bench she had kissed him which made the older youth jealous.

The teenager said his co-defendant then verbally abused her and punched her up to 20 times,stamped on her face, pulled off her knickers and assaulted her with a wine bottle.

The 17-year-old then allegedly had intercourse with Miss Maughan, the younger youth claims.

Miss Wass said the 14-year-old watched as his friend dragged Miss Maughan to the river by her wrists and then asked him to help throw her in.

When the younger boy refused he said the 17-year-old kicked her in the genitals so she fell into the water.

The older youth was also arrested on July 31 and told police he and his friend had been with Miss Maughan on the bench by the river and she had started kissing his co-defendant.

He said to officers he had rolled a joint and fallen asleep for up to 45 minutes.

When he woke up the younger boy was dragging an unconscious Miss Maughan towards the river by her ankles.

Miss Wass told the jury the prosecution case was that both boys had put her into the water as the post mortem examination found no drag marks on her body which indicated she had been carried.

“The crown's case is that the defendants acted together when they killed Helen Maughan. It may be that one was more violent than the other, it may be that one was the leader and one was the follower. They were in it together,” said Miss Wass.

She told the jury both boys had spoken of the attack to friends afterwards and threatened other people that they would “throw them in the river”.

The trial continues.

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