Teenage girl 'subjected to brutal regime of torture': Court told how 16-year-old burnt to death

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The Independent Online
A JURY heard yesterday how a 16- year-old girl was held captive, gagged, blindfolded, drugged and beaten, and then subjected to a 'regime of brutality and torture' which included having her teeth pulled out. She was then killed by having petrol poured over her naked body and set alight.

Peter Openshaw QC, opening the case for the Crown, yesterday described the final six days of Suzanne Capper's life at Manchester Crown Court, where six people, four men and two women, face murder charges. The jury was told that Suzanne, from Moston near Manchester, was bound by rope, electrical flex and chains.

Her head and body were shaved and she was burnt, probably by a cigarette, on her shoulder and in the mouth. She was left to lie in her own urine and excrement, given little food and water, beaten with ornamental spoons and forks, and her two front teeth were pulled out with a pair of household pliers.

Finally, when she was too weak to stand, she was bundled into the boot of a car and driven to a wood where petrol was poured over her and ignited. The girl 'incredibly' found the strength to drag herself a quarter of a mile where she was found by workmen. She died four days later.

The six accused - Jeanette Powell, 26; Jeffrey Leigh, 27; Anthony Dudson, 17; Bernadette McNeilly, 24; Clifford Pook, 18, and Glynn Powell, 29; all from Moston - all deny Suzanne's murder. They also plead not guilty to a conspiracy charge and Mr Powell, Mr Leigh and Mr Dudson deny false imprisonment.

Mr Openshaw told the jury of eight men and three women that some of the accused had grievances against Suzanne Capper. He explained that her parents had been divorced and she lived with her stepfather. She had often played truant from school and stayed away from home regularly.

She got to know some of the accused and became involved with a man who ran a 'sleazy' operation for local clubs. Mr Openshaw said that the man and Suzanne had made indecent suggestions to Jeanette Powell.

There had also been arguments about a duffle-coat, he said, and about two of the accused catching lice, probably from Suzanne. He told the court that last December the 16-year-old was lured back to the house where she had stayed with some of the accused. As soon as she entered she was assaulted, he said. Her hair was cut off, her eyebrows and body shaved and she was subjected to a 'ritual humiliation'; she was beaten and put in a cupboard with heavy furniture pushed against it and left there for the night, he said.

He said that the next morning she had been shut in another cupboard and left there all day. She was eventually moved to another house nearby, bound and fastened to the wooden slats of an upturned bed. The door to the room had been padlocked.

At one point, he said, she was put in a bath and concentrated disinfectant was poured over her. He went on to say that she had been injected with amphetamines and subjected to a 'distressing and insidious form of torture'; headphones had been placed on her head and loud rave music was played over and over again. He claimed a decision was then taken to kill the girl. A car had been stolen, false number plates were fitted to it and Suzanne was bundled into the boot. After being set alight she was left for dead, he said. He alleged that afterwards the accused had gone back to the house and sung 'grotesquely inappropriate' songs such as 'Burn Baby Burn'. It was 'a kind of exultation'.

The trial continues today and is expected to last for at least a month.

(Photograph omitted)