Burning body case was 'bizarre'

THE detective in charge of the investigation into the horrific murder of Debra Carne has said her killers had "no mitigation" for their horrendous crime.

THE detective in charge of the investigation into the horrific murder of Debra Carne has said her killers had "no mitigation" for their horrendous crime.

Det Supt Win Bernardled the inquiry into the 17-year-old's killing in July 2002, known as Operation Pershing.

Mr Bernard said it was a case he would never forget out of numerous investigations during his 26-year police career.

He said: "I will always find it hard to believe that this arose out of such a trivial thing.

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"I also find it hard to believe that one of them did not say stop. If one of them had just said stop then it wouldn't have happened.

"It is such a bizarre case. I cannot think of a better word to describe it. What happened was inexplicable."

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Mr Bernard, 49, said there was "emphatically not" any mitigation for Wood, Hollinshead, Last and Bauer's actions.

"Any mitigation is excuses, excuses being used by individuals to try and rationalise the horrific act they have taken part in," he said.

"There is no excuse for setting fire to a 17-year-old because I think she is going out with my boyfriend, my friend's boyfriend or because I used to go out with her."

Mr Bernard has worked on cases including the rape of a Colchester pensioner in 2001, the murder of Clacton artist Simon Shannon in 1995 and the hi-jack of an Afghanistan passenger plane, which landed at Stansted Airport in 2000.

He said: "I always remember certain cases and I will remember this one because of the bizarre circumstances and the impact on the family and everyone that knew Debra.

"I want people to remember Debra. She was just 17, a perfectly normal 17-year-old who could have been anybody's daughter, sister, auntie or niece.

"If lessons can be learnt from such a horrific set of circumstances then I believe Debra would wish that to happen.

"With cases like this you delve so much into the victim's background and personality you feel you know them and have met them.

"You also feel a bit that they know you which is clearly not the case."

He added: "I would also like to pay tribute to Debra's family and friends. They stood by us even when we had difficult news to give them as we often do in this type of investigation."

He said he saw no remorse from the defendants at court but was "satisfied" with the verdicts.

"I may have found them guilty of other offences but I am a police officer," he said.

"I can understand how the jury arrived at the verdicts they arrived at."

Following the hearing yesterday, Mr Bernard said the sentences were a matter for the courts.

He described the crime as "evil" and said Miss Carne died a "very horrible and awful death."

Her mother Heather Knight who had a very, very close relationship with her daughter was "completely devastated and will never get over it" he said.

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