Two are jailed in 'Band of Gold' killing

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Two men were jailed for 10 years yesterday for the manslaughter of a teenager who turned to prostitution after watching a television series about vice-girls. Lucy Burchell, 16, died after taking an overdose of heroin. She started to work on the streets after watching the ITV series Band of Gold.

Tahir Khan, 26, from Saltey, Birmingham and Rungzabe Khan, 25, of Hodge Hill, Birmingham, were also convicted at Birmingham Crown Court of supplying heroin, and possession with intent to supply. Lucy disappeared on 15 August and her body was found five days later in Edgbaston, Birmingham.

Passing sentence, Mr Justice McKinnon said: "You are both... evil young men, actively engaged in the wicked trade of heroin-dealing." The conviction for manslaughter was "by omission", because they failed to summon medical help for Lucy after she fell into a coma.

The court heard she began working the streets of Walsall in the evenings while sitting GCSE exams during the day. Each night she took a change of clothes to a children's home where a 15-year-old friend was living, and the two then went to a red-light area. According to a another prostitute Lucy would "go with anyone, anywhere".

By the time she died her parents, Graham and Christine, of Great Wyrley, Staffordshire, knew she was mixing with prostitutes. They tried to reason with her and thought they had succeeded when she wrote to them, apologising for upsetting them. But she continued to walk the streets. The letter said: "I can understand that you must be worried. I suppose I thought though there was no reason for you to be worried (which there isn't) but I know how much I must be upsetting you."

Two days later she was dead. The two men had picked her up in the Caldmore area of Walsall and taken her to a house in Edgbaston where they fed her a dose of 80-per-cent-pure heroin. She fell into a coma and by 6pm the following day she was dead.

After the trial her brother Craig, a student, read a statement from his parents: "We will never be able to make sense of what has happened and the loss of our daughter will always be with us, every day ..."

A spokeswoman for Granada television, which produced the Band of Gold series, said last night that the programme had won the support of police forces and discussion groups for tackling difficult issues and could not be accused of glamorising the subject of prostitution.