Scarlett Keeling's mother testifies at trial in India

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The Independent Online

The mother of the murdered British teenager Scarlett Keeling told a court yesterday how she heard the news of her daughter's death in a phone call.

Fiona MacKeown gave evidence for the first time in an Indian children's court where two men are accused of the manslaughter and rape of 15-year-old Scarlett.

She said she last saw Scarlett alive when she left her alone at Anjuna beach in the tourist state of Goa for a trip to the southern state of Karnataka with her other children.

Early on 18 February 2008 she received a text message from Scarlett's Indian boyfriend Julio Lobo. She said: "I called him immediately to speak to Scarlett, but Julio said I couldn't speak to her. I asked him why – if she was in an accident or in hospital – but he was very upset and couldn't speak to me."

Ms MacKeown said she hung up, but the boyfriend rang back. "He told me that Scarlett had been found murdered on the beach and I needed to get back to Anjuna immediately."

Ms MacKeown, from Bideford, Devon, told the court in Goa how she later identified her daughter's body, first at a police station in Anjuna and later at a mortuary. She repeated her claims there was a cover-up by police, saying she refused to believe the teenager had drowned because she was a "strong swimmer".

Samson D'Souza, 30, and Placido Carvalho, 42, deny culpable homicide, sexual assault, outraging modesty and destroying evidence. They were arrested a month after Scarlett's death and are free on bail.