Laughter after girl set alight, jury told

ONE OF THE men accused of the murder of a 16-year-old girl laughed as he handed back a cigarette lighter after she had been set on fire, a court was told yesterday.

Anthony Dudson, 17, of Colby Walk, Moston, Manchester, was giving evidence at Manchester Crown Court on the 11th day of the trial of five people charged with murdering Suzanne Capper.

It is alleged that she was taken to remote woodland, doused in petrol and set alight. She received 70 per cent burns and died in hospital four days later.

Mr Dudson said that he returned to a house in Langworthy Road, Moston, with Glyn Powell, 28, his estranged wife, Jean, 26, and Bernadette McNeilly, 24, who were all said to have been in the wood with him when Suzanne was set alight. All are charged with murder.

At the house when they arrived was the fifth person accused of the murder, Jeffrey Leigh, 26, as well as Clifford Pook, 18, who last week was cleared of the murder on the direction of the judge.

Mr Dudson said: 'Cliff asked Glyn, 'Have you done it?'. Glyn said 'Yes' and he was laughing. He gave Cliff his lighter back.'

Mr Dudson said he was present when Suzanne was set alight but that he took no active part. He admitted he was a 'trainee car thief'.

Jack Price QC, representing Jean Powell, asked him under cross- examination, referring to the murder and torture of Suzanne: 'Do you say you were totally blameless?' Mr Dudson: 'Yes.'

The court has been told how Suzanne was held prisoner, tied to a bed and tortured before being set alight. The five deny murder.

Jean Powell, McNeilly and Pook have all pleaded guilty to false imprisonment, a charge the others deny, and Pook has also admitted conspiracy to commit grievous bodily harm, which is denied by the other five.

The hearing continues.