Panaji: Being a sole breadwinner is not enough reason for mitigating a sentence in a case involving pre-planned sexual assault and culpable homicide. The Panaji Bench of the Bombay High Court said in its order convicting Samson D’Souza, a beach shack worker, for 10 years for sexually assaulting 15-year-old Scarlett Keeling, a British national, and leaving her to die on a Goa beach in 2008.
The judgement by Justices R.D. Dhanuka and Prithiviraj Chavan also said while acquitting D’Souza in 2016 the Goa Children’s Court had taken an “impossible view in the given set of facts and circumstances” of the case and ignored “cogent” witnesses and medical evidence, including wounds on the girl’s body.
“The mode and manner in which he took the victim to the beach and outraged her modesty also exhibits the lasciviousness on his part. Merely because he is the only earning member of the family with a minor daughter would not be a mitigating circumstance to show leniency,” the court said.
The Bench convicted D’Souza and acquitted another accused, Placido Carvalho, on Wednesday and pronounced the quantum of sentence on Friday, a copy of the judgement was made available in the public domain on Sunday.
The court also said the accused had a “pre-planned motive” and had offered “intoxicated substance to the victim as well as beer”. The acquittal of D’Souza by the trial court in 2016 was a result of “improper appreciation of evidence and is capricious”, it said.
“The conclusions are contrary to the evidence on record. The judgement is based on surmises and conjectures,” the court said. “There is indeed a miscarriage of justice. The view taken by the learned trial court is an impossible view in the given set of facts and circumstances,” it said.
Scarlett was found dead at Goa’s Anjuna beach in February 2008. The police initially claimed her death was due to accidental drowning, but the deceased’s mother Fiona MacKeown insisted on a second autopsy. A sub inspector was also dismissed from the service on account of the lapse, while a forensic specialist came under the scanner for the dubious first autopsy.
The subsequent post-mortem showed there was ecstasy, cocaine and LSD in the teenager’s body, along with 50 cuts and bruises and evidence of sexual assault. It was alleged D’Souza plied her with drugs, raped her and left her unconscious face down on the beach.
D’Souza was booked for culpable homicide, criminal assault and outraging a woman’s modesty, providing narcotics to a person with knowledge that it could cause serious harm or death, and destruction of evidence, besides Section 8(II) of the Goa Children’s Act.