I did not abuse and kill Zoe, says stepfather

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The Independent Online
MILES EVANS, a soldier, stood in the witness box yesterday and denied involvement in the murder of his nine-year-old stepdaughter, Zoe. He also denied having removed her from the family home at Warminster, Wiltshire, or having sexually abused her.

Private Evans made his denials in answer to questions from Alun Jenkins QC, for the defence, after he spent two hours in the witness box at Bristol Crown Court on the ninth day of his trial. He has denied murdering Zoe between 9-12 January last year.

In his evidence, Pte Evans, who is in the Royal Logistics Corps, also denied having left his dark blue T-shirt behind after the killing - a garment soaked with Zoe's blood which the Crown say is "crucial" in its case against him. Pte Evans, 24, also said he was not suggesting in any way that his wife Paula, 29, was involved in the murder.

The prosecution alleges Pte Evans took Zoe from the family's home in married quarters near Warminster Barracks on 11 January as his wife - a heavy sleeper - slept in their upstairs bedroom. It says he took Zoe to attack and murder her, then buried her in a badger sett on nearby Battlesbury Hill.

Police found Zoe's naked body six weeks later. She had died of suffocation caused by her crop-top garment being pushed into her mouth, and through inhaling blood from her nose, which, the prosecution has alleged, had been broken by a blow from a fist. The prosecution has said Pte Evans left his T-shirt and a pair of Zoe's pants, both of which were stained with the child's blood, near by. The shirt also had stains of Pte Evans's semen, which he said had come from a love-making session with his wife days before Zoe's disappearance.

Pte Evans's denials came after Mr Jenkins had taken him through the details of his movements in the days before Zoe's disappearance and the days afterwards and before her body was found on 26 February.

Mr Jenkins asked Pte Evans: "Did you kill Zoe?" Pte Evans: "No, I did not." Mr Jenkins: "Did you have any part in taking Zoe to Battlesbury Hill?" Pte Evans: "No, I did not." Mr Jenkins: "Did you have any part at all in assaulting Zoe?" Pte Evans: "No, I did not."

The soldier also said he had not interfered sexually with the girl or attempted to do so. He admitted he liked little girls but not in a sexual way. Asked about his T-shirt, Pte Evans said that sometimes his wife wore them and that Zoe might also use one as a nightshirt. He believed he last saw the shirt when it was on his washing line weeks before Zoe vanished.

Pte Evans agreed that at the time Zoe disappeared he loved his wife, Paula, who gave evidence as a Crown witness last week. The jury has heard she now uses her maiden name of Hamilton.

Pte Evans agreed that for Paula to have killed Zoe she would have to have climbed over him in bed, to have broken the child's nose and buried her. Mr Pascoe asked: "I want to know whether directly or indirectly you are saying to this jury 'I think Paula killed Zoe'." Pte Evans: "No."

The trial continues.

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