Murder trial jury visits crime scene

A JURY has been taken to the site where a young mother was allegedly attacked and then dumped in a river by two teenage boys.

A JURY has been taken to the site where a young mother was allegedly attacked and then dumped in a river by two teenage boys.

The youths were 13 and 16 at the time of the alleged murder of Helen Maughan, and it is claimed they had spent the hours leading up to the attack drinking alcohol.

The mother-of-two's half-naked body was found floating in the River Colne. off North Station Road in Colchester. on May 20 last year.

The teenagers, now 14 and 17 and both from Colchester, have admitted being with Miss Maughan shortly before her death but each blamed the other for the killing during police interviews.

Both boys, who cannot be named, deny a charge a murder between May 17 and May 20, 2007.

Yesterday the judge, the Honourable Mr Justice Bean, the jury of six men and six women, the defendants and court staff travelled to Colchester to view the spot where the body was found.

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The murder investigation was launched after a man walking by the River Colne spotted Miss Maughan's body floating in the water and alerted the police, Chelmsford Crown Court has heard.

During the opening of the trial on Tuesday, the jury heard that 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.

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

On May 18 she had been to a number of bars and pubs, and last spoke to her boyfriend on the phone at 10.30pm.

Miss Wass alleged that at around 11.24pm that night Miss Maughan and the teenagers, who had also been drinking, 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 boy 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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