Josie recalls bid to escape from killer

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The Independent Online
JOSIE RUSSELL volunteered to help detectives with their inquiries two months after the attack from which many feared she would never recover, a court was told yesterday.

On 2 September 1996 she saw a television bulletin on the murders of her mother, Lin, and sister, Megan, and suggested to her father, Shaun, that she could remember some details.

Anne Rafferty QC, for the prosecution, told Maidstone Crown Court: "She indicated she had made some recollection of what had occurred, following which Dr Russell informed the police investigating the case."

The head injuries Josie suffered had left her with the speaking ability of a two-year-old and comprehension problems. But a speech therapist was employed to help her and the first investigative interview with Josie took place on the 12 September 1996.

Asked at first what she remembered doing on the day of the killings, Josie could only say: "We walked, we walked home."

Gradually, through hand signals, gestures and using models, more details emerged.

Asked whether the man was fat, medium or thin, she indicated medium build, with blond hair. She could also remember he was wearing jeans and a blue- grey top and drove a two- door saloon.

Asked whether the man spoke, Josie nodded and made an "Ow" sound. This was her mother crying out after being struck, she said. Josie nodded to indicate that the man had hurt her too and made a fist, as if to strike her own head.

Asked what he had used for a weapon, Josie picked out a picture of a hammer but managed to demonstrate that she had not seen the man hit her mother because she herself had been bound during the attack. She also showed how she and her mother were blindfolded with towels. She then raised her hand and brought it down to show how her mother was hit.

By May last year the video showed Josie using a fuller vocabulary as she revealed for the first time that the man initially demanded cash. "The man said 'Give your money' and Lin said 'I've got no money, shall I go back to my house and get it?' and the man said 'No'," Josie said. She revealed how her mother urged her to flee, shouting: "Run, run, run," but the man caught her and brought her back to be bound.

Josie said at one point: "No, no. Then tie up and me run in here and then 'bang' then okay, okay, okay."

She was referring to how she surrendered to the attacker after he pushed her to the ground and hit her on the head as she tried to escape.

Yet the account was still muddled. Asked whether she was hit when she was tied to the tree, Josie said: "I don't remember. Probably."

She recounted how she tried to stand up and was consequently tied more tightly by the man, who, she said, told her: "I'm going to tie you up and then drive away." Her memory stops abruptly at this point.

At one point during the interviews Detective Constable Pauline Smith, one of two officers who coaxed details from Josie, acknowledged it was "a horrible day to have to think about". Yet the girl seemed happy to co-operate with the questions and eager to help to furnish useful responses.

The four-hour videotape, agreed on as evidence by both prosecution and defence counsel, means Josie will not have to give live evidence to the court. In a statement read to the court, she effectively swore a specially adapted oath.

She said: "For many months I have been helping the police, trying my hardest to remember what happened to my mother, sister and to me.

"I understand what it means to tell the truth. I realise how important it is to tell the truth."

In other evidence yesterday Ms Rafferty said there was a slight semen stain on the outside of Josie's pants but it was too small for DNA testing and was unlikely to have been there as a result of ejaculation.

The trial continues today.