Two face life for Debra's murder

TWO people are facing life sentences today for the brutal killing of a teenager who they had never even met before they murdered her in a lay-by.Debra Carne, 17, was asphyxiated before being doused in petrol and set alight after she became involved in a row over a friend.

TWO people are facing life sentences today for the brutal killing of a teenager who they had never even met before they murdered her in a lay-by.

Debra Carne, 17, was asphyxiated before being doused in petrol and set alight after she became involved in a row over a friend.

Her burning body was spotted by passers-by in undergrowth in a remote spot near to Castle Hedingham.

At Chelmsford Crown Court yesterday a jury returned a unanimous guilty verdict on Kerry Bauer, who had denied murder.


You may also want to watch:


The 21-year-old of the Foyer hostel, Braintree, dragged Miss Carne, of Swan Court, Sible Hedingham, from a car before covering her in petrol and together with Emma Last, 18, killed her.

Last, also of the Foyer had already pleaded guilty to Miss Carne's murder on July 28, 2002.

Most Read

Steven Wood, 23, of Parker Way, Halstead, was found guilty unanimously of manslaughter after driving Miss Carne to Last and Bauer who lay waiting to ambush her in Dyne's Hall Road, Castle Hedingham, just two miles from her home.

In the week before the killing, Wood had spoken with Miss Carne's mother, Heather Knight, of his feelings towards the teenager.

Wood, who was cleared of murder, stood emotionless as the foreman of the jury returned the verdicts after nearly 27 hours of deliberation.

The third defendant, Nicole Hollinshead, 19, of Halstead, was cleared of murder and manslaughter, but found guilty of conspiracy to inflict grievous bodily harm. Last and Bauer had not met Miss Carne, but targeted her after their friend Hollinshead became suspicious of Miss Carne's involvement with Steven Wood.

The judge Mr Justice Nelson said sentencing would take place next week and remanded Hollinshead, who was the only defendant on bail, in custody.

Prosecutor Martyn Levett had told the jury of seven men and five women, that Wood and Hollinshead had been living together but had separated after a “tiff” shortly before Miss Carne's death.

A few days before the death Wood had spent the night at the home Miss Carne shared with her mother, Heather Knight. He had told Miss Knight that he had “dumped Nicole in preference to Debra”, said Mr Levett.

Hollinshead became jealous and the following day sent 24 text messages to

Wood's mobile before midday. Miss Carne also received abusive text messages

which she reported to police.

A day later Wood and Hollinshead got back together and had visited Bauer and Last at a hostel they were staying at in Braintree.

Miss Carne called Hollinshead to say Wood had made advances to her. When

challenged by Hollinshead, Wood denied this.

Hollinshead became angry with Miss Carne and recruited Bauer and Last in a

plot to wreak her revenge on her love rival.

After the verdicts, Detective Superintendent Win Bernard, of Essex Police, said all those on trial had played a part, to a greater or lesser extent, in Miss Carne's death.

He said: “Evil and despicable are the only words to describe the murder of Debra Carne and those responsible for her brutal death.

“What beggars belief is how anyone can take a life in such a horrific and premeditated manner over something so trivial, over a typical teenage event.”

After the verdict's Debra's parents spoke of the impact her death had on their lives.

Her mother, Heather Knight, said: “I can't explain how much I miss my Debra. All I know is how much I'm hurting inside and no-one will ever know that.

“She meant the world to me. Every day I wake up she is the first thing on my mind. I can't do anything but think about how much she suffered and how they hurt her badly. She must have been petrified no knowing what was going on and what for.”

Roger Carne, her father, said: “My daughter Debra died needlessly at the hands of selfish, callous individuals. Debra was 17 years old at the cusp of her life, about to enter adulthood with her whole life ahead of her.

“Innocent through and through, she was blameless, having done nothing wrong or hurt no one in her short life. These people have not only devastated my life, but many others' lives for nothing.

“Debra was lured to her death by a man who four days before had said he loved her. She was murdered and burned while this man sat in his car and did nothing.

“Who will ever understand this abhorrent act of evil? My last memories of Debra will always be good memories but having been a fire officer for 22 years I will also be left with a horrendous image of how my daughter died.”

Sentencing will take place next Wednesday.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter