Suspect appears in court over girl's murder in Goa

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The Independent Online

A barman arrested over the rape and murder of Scarlett Keeling, the British girl found dead in Goa, has apparently confessed to having sex with the 15-year-old less than two hours before her semi-naked body was discovered on a beach.

Samson da Souza, who appeared in court yesterday and was remanded in custody, allegedly told police he was with Scarlett in the early hours of 18 February but insisted their liaison was consensual. According to papers presented to the court in Mapusa, Goa, he said she was still alive when he left her at 5.15am.

The arrest of Mr Da Souza, 29, came after doctors carried out a second post-mortem examination of Scarlett under pressure from her mother, Fiona MacKeown, who rejected the initial finding that she had drowned. A second autopsy suggested her death in the resort of Anjuna was "homicidal in nature".

Mrs MacKeown and her lawyer, Vikram Varma, have accused police of a cover-up and do not believe Mr Da Souza – who worked at Lui's Bar where Scarlett was last seen alive – is the main suspect. "He is just a barman," said Mr Varma. "When the police cover up a crime like homicide, there has to be someone else to hide. There is something that does not fit the picture."

Police have detained two other Indian men – Luis Coutinho, the owner of Lui's, and Julio Lobo, a 25-year-old tour guide who was having a sexual relationship with Scarlett. Yesterday, Mrs McKeown asked for India's equivalent of the FBI – the Central Bureau of Investigation – to take over the case and question Goan police officers involved.

"I have lost faith in the current leadership of the Goan police and request for an inquiry by the CBI, both into the circumstances of the crime and the men in uniform," said Mrs McKeown, of Bideford, Devon, who made her request in a letter to Goa's Chief Minister, Digambar Kamat.

Officials at the British high commission confirmed they had spoken to a tourist who claims to have seen Mr Da Souza and Scarlett having sex not long before she was found dead a few metres from the bar at about 6.30am. The man has since asked the commission to ensure his safety.

Scarlett travelled to India in November with her mother and six younger siblings. Reports suggest she was a regular at many of Anjuna's beachfront bars and took drugs there. Mrs MacKeown, 43, denies Scarlett was involved with drugs but admits that, having read her diary, she now realises her daughter was having sex with Mr Lobo.