Five guilty of murdering girl, aged 16, in sickening attack

Adrian Thomas, 20; Jamaile Morally, 22; his brother Joshua Morally, 23; and Llewellyn Adams, 24, all from south London, had travelled with two others to Reading to carry out the assault last year. During the trial, a fifth man, 19-year-old Michael Johnson, of Southfields, south London, had already admitted murdering Mary-Ann, the attempted murder of her friend, and kidnap.

The bestial nature of the attack on Mary-Ann Leneghan, a schoolgirl who had abandoned her studies for what she saw as the excitement of the world of drugs, caused shock and revulsion.

A jury at Reading Crown Court heard that the teenager was kidnapped in a pub car park in the Berkshire town in May last year along with an 18-year-old friend by a gang of six men and taken to a room in a nearby guest house. In the ensuing hours, the girls were subjected to a sustained sexual assault and torture which involved cigarette burns and boiling sugar syrup being splashed on to their bodies.

They were then taken a central Reading park to be killed. Mary-Ann died from more than 40 stab wounds after being forced onto her knees and made to wear a pillow case.

Her friend, who cannot be named, saw the attack before having a gun placed to her forehead. She survived the murder attempt because the home-made bullet splintered in the barrel and caused shrapnel wounds, knocking her unconscious.

During the two-month trial, Richard Latham QC, for the prosecution, told the jury that the men had developed a "pack mentality" during the assault as it turned to violence.

Adams, who acted as the driver for the gang, told police: "I felt there was a ninth person in the room, which was the devil."

The jury has yet to reach a verdict on a charge of murder against a sixth man, Indrit Krasniqi, an Albanian, from Chiswick, west London. He was found guilty of kidnap and assault.

The gang had faced a total of 42 charges including rape, kidnap, assault and attempted murder. Five men, excluding Adams, were all convicted of the oral rape of Mary-Ann. All six have been convicted of kidnap.

The jurors had heard how the two girls, described as "naïve" individuals who had dropped out of school and found the drug scene in their home town "attractive and exciting", had started hanging around with Thomas, a drug dealer who had started renting a flat above a nightclub in Reading.

When a gang of black men burst into the flat in April last year, stabbing and robbing Thomas, the dealer concluded that he had been betrayed by the two girls. He told his landlord: "I've been set up. The bitch set me up. She must have left the door open."

Despite its image as a dull but prosperous Home Counties town, in the past decade Reading has had an influx of gun-carrying gangsters and drug dealers looking for rich pickings.

Three weeks after the robbery, Thomas got together his five co-defendants and drove along the M4 from London in Adams' Nissan Almera. They were armed with guns, an iron bar and knives.

On the night of 6 May last year they found Mary-Ann and her friend sitting in a car in the car park of the disused Wallingford Arms pub.

The girls were driven to the Abbey House hotel, where they were taken through a back door to a small double room. Once inside, the kidnappers spread towels on the floor to soak up blood. The two young women were made to strip naked and subjected to a degrading assault.

Both were forced to smoke heroin and crack cocaine while two of the gang filmed sex acts on their mobiles. Throughout the attack they were told they were going to die. The gang later stripped the bed of its bloodstained sheets, some of which were later recovered by police at the home of the Morally brothers.

The girls were driven in the boot of the car to Prospect Park. After being walked to an isolated spot, the older girl lifted the pillow case placed over her head to see Johnson stabbing Mary-Ann in the stomach with a kitchen knife.

Giving evidence, the older girl, who was the key prosecution witness, wept as she recalled seeing Johnson stab Mary-Ann on "her upper body, her chest, her breasts, everything". Now 19, she said one of the gang placed a gun at her head and asked: "'Are you ready to die yet?' He said: 'These are gonna be your last memories. Your friend being butchered,' and then he shot me." She was shot in the forehead before the men fled, thinking both to be dead.

During the trial, Mr Latham told the jury: "Everything that happened, happened with plenty of time for objection. There was plenty of time for the defendants to withdraw and leave the room." He referred to Thomas as the "mastermind" of the killing, called his schoolfriend Jamaile Morally "a manipulative liar" and described Johnson as a "sadist".

As the verdicts were delivered yesterday, the six men stood silently in the dock. Only Krasniqi showed any emotion.