Fair trial plea in Hurley case

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The Independent Online

Counsel for a teenage girl who was part of a gang accused of robbing the model, Liz Hurley, of £10 at knifepoint yesterday made a plea that his client be given a fair hearing despite the glaring contrast in lifestyles between her and the victim.

Philip Statman, representing the 17-year-old, known as Miss C for legal reasons, told Southwark Crown Court she had not known of Miss Hurley, "one of the most famous faces of the year", before the alleged attack.

"Their lives are diametrically opposed . . . Her life is one of Oscars, of modelling Versace and Valentino. She moves in high places with the full glare of publicity and the fame that undoubtedly brings."

By contrast, Mr Statman said, Miss C was an adolescent for whom a night out was a Kentucky Fried Chicken meal and a couple of bottles of the fortified wine that had left the girls tipsy before the alleged attack.

"But in these two women we see one essential ingredient in this case," he said. "They were brought together by the events of the 23 November last year, rather like the Princess and the Pauper. For the first and only time in their lives before this court they start out as total equals before they gave their evidence because we are all equal before the law."

His message was reinforced by Judge Gerald Butler as he began his summing- up at the end of the second day of the trial, which had regained its calm following the high drama of the appearance the previous day by Miss Hurley, who has returned to America by Concorde.

The judge told the jury: "Unless you live on another planet the celebrity status of Miss Hurley will be known to all, but in this court that is irrelevant. Here you assess her evidence in the same way you assess the evidence of the defendants."

The girls, Christina Guerrine, 18, of Bethnal Green, east London, Carlene Irving, 18 of Shepherd's Bush, west London, and Miss C, all deny robbery. A fourth girl, Miss B, also 17, has admitted the charge.

One of the group, Miss Irving, conceded under cross-examination she knew Miss B was attempting to rob Miss Hurley, and all the girls conceded that they knew one of their number was carrying a knife. However, they denied taking part in the robbery in South Kensington, south-west London.

The trial continues today.