New Zealand teenager guilty of British girl's murder

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A New Zealand teenager was found guilty today of murdering British schoolgirl Liberty Templeman.

The jury of six men and six women at the High Court in Whangarei, New Zealand, returned an 11-1 majority verdict after 10 hours of deliberations.

The youth, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was remanded in custody to be sentenced on March 26.

He was also found guilty of indecent assault by a unanimous verdict.

Liberty, 15, originally from Brightlingsea, Essex, was found lying face-down in a stream in Kerikeri in November 2008.

The youth, who was 14 at the time, tore away her underwear after attacking her to make it look like a rape, jurors were told.

Liberty, known to friends as Libby, emigrated to New Zealand with her parents in 2005.

The family settled in Kerikeri, where she attended the local high school, and in late 2008 her parents moved to Auckland. The teenager maintained contact with her friends in Kerikeri, the court heard.

On November 1 that year she went to a barbecue along with her killer, who also attended her school.

She left at about 6.30pm to meet her boyfriend at a local supermarket but never arrived.

Her body was found the next day.

Prosecutors said the suspect was seen with Liberty, who was texting from her mobile phone.

He later attacked and strangled her before dragging her unconscious down to the bank of the Wairoa stream, the court heard.

The teen pulled down her pants and lifted her bra in an attempt to suggest she was the victim of rape.

Liberty's parents Andrew and Rebecca Templeman and her 13-year-old son were in the court to hear the verdicts, as were a number of the youth's family.

Outside court, Mr Templeman made a tearful statement about the outcome of the trial.

He expressed relief at the result, but said it did not bring back his daughter.

"Libby gave us so much... we will somehow rebuild and help our son, who has shown a tremendous amount of character and courage," he said.