Teen guilty of schoolgirl murder

A TEENAGER has been found guilty of killing a former Essex schoolgirl whose family left the UK for a better life in New Zealand.

By Beck Vass

A TEENAGER has been found guilty of killing a former Essex schoolgirl whose family left the UK for a better life in New Zealand.

The 16-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was convicted of murdering 15-year-old Libby Templeman who was also indecently assaulted.

Libby, who used to attend Colne Community School in Brightlingsea, went missing in November 2008 and her body was later found in a stream in Kerikeri.

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The defendant, who was 14 at the time of the murder, was found guilty on an 11-1 majority verdict at the High Court in Whangarei after 10 hours of deliberations.

The verdict resulted in hugely emotional scenes as Libby's mother walked out of the courtroom after the verdicts were delivered, followed by her father.

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The couple, who used to live in Brightlingsea, were later seen being hugged by Crown lawyers.

The killer, whose name will be released tomorrow, was found to have murdered Libby by hitting her, strangling her and dragging her while she was unconscious into the stream where she drowned.

He was also found guilty of indecent assault.

When it looked likely that the jury would not be able to agree on a unanimous decision, Justice Raynor Asher advised them that under New Zealand law a majority verdict - 11 out of 12 in agreement - would be allowed.

Justice Asher told the jurors a retrial could be possible after they admitted they were struggling to reach a verdict.

The teenager had admitted causing Libby's death but his defence lawyer, Catherine Cull, had said: “Yes, the accused caused her death.

“That was caused by an unlawful act but he did not have either of the murderous intentions.

“He made the most tragic and most silly decision to try to conceal what he thought was a body and it is that decision - in placing her, or in putting her, in the stream - that ultimately caused her death, but he did not do that action with the intent to kill her.”

She told the jurors they could not be sure beyond reasonable doubt that the boy meant to kill Libby.

“He was a 14-year-old in a panic. He did not want to get into trouble,” she said.

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