Rector's sympathy for dead girl's family

THE brutal and senseless murder of an East Anglian teenager reflects all the ills of modern society, a clergyman said last night.The burning body of 17-year-old Debra Carne was found in a remote spot just two miles from her Sible Hedingham home – she had been asphyxiated before being set alight.

THE brutal and senseless murder of an East Anglian teenager reflects all the ills of modern society, a clergyman said last night.

The burning body of 17-year-old Debra Carne was found in a remote spot just two miles from her Sible Hedingham home - she had been asphyxiated before being set alight.

Her killers, Kerry Bauer, 21, and Emma Last, 18, both of the Foyer hostel in Braintree, had never even met her before the night of the attack.

Bauer was found guilty of murder at Chelmsford Crown Court on Wednesday, while Last admitted murder at an earlier hearing. The pair will be sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court next week.


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It was alleged the incident developed after Debra became involved in a row over a male friend.

Yesterday, Reverend Des Kelly, the Rector at Sible and Castle Hedingham parish churches spoke of his sadness at the tragedy, which happened in July 2002.

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He said: "This was so needless, and over what? It was pathetic. There was no reason for it - it was dreadful and I feel for the entire family.

"This is just a symptom of our society, there does not seem to seem be enough respect for life - this just goes to show these people had their priorities in life all wrong.

"I honestly think, that in a sense, the way our society is - those who committed the crimes are almost victims themselves.

"I am not saying they do not deserve punishment, they will be punished - I think our society is in such a mess that people don't have values any more and it does not stop here, but goes across the country."

The former policeman, who has been the rector for the past 10 years, added: "I fear for my children and their future unless we grasp the nettle now, and it will have to be the national Government which does it.

"It was dreadful but I am glad for the family that the court case is over. They will be traumatised forever by this, as anybody would be."

Two other defendants before the court were Steven Wood and Nicole Hollinshead.

Wood, 23, of Parker Way, Halstead, was cleared of murder but convicted of manslaughter, while Hollinshead, 19, also of Halstead, was convicted of conspiracy to inflict grievous bodily harm. She was cleared of murder and manslaughter.

The jury had been told how Wood had sat in his car and watched as Debra, who he had said he loved just days before, was killed. Her body was found in an isolated lay-by in Dyne's Hall Road, just outside Castle Hedingham.

It was alleged Bauer and Last killed Debra after she allegedly came between Wood and Hollinshead, who had been involved in a relationship.

The murder shocked the close-knit communities of Sible Hedingham, where Debra lived with her mother Heather Knight at Swan Court, and Castle Hedingham.

Miss Knight said yesterday that the end of the court case had not eased her sense of loss.

"I miss Debra so much - I can't get used to her not being here, or being at home with her friends," she explained.

Meanwhile, a senior councillor last night defended the Foyer hostel in Braintree, where Bauer and Last lived at the time of the killing.

The hostel is a specialist location offering a home to homeless people aged 16 to 25.

During the murder trial, the jury heard how the defendants had sat smoking cannabis in Last's room, discussing the plot to get their own back on Miss Carne.

However, Graham Butland, the executive councillor for health and community issues at Braintree District Council, denied the Foyer was to blame in any way.

He said: "The council has always supported the work of the Foyer in helping young people to make a better start with independent living.

"Recent events are tragic, but in no way reflect on other residents or the service provided by the centre which provides accommodation, skills training and mentoring for dozens of young people every year."

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