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'Death-obsessed' boy loses appeal

'Death-obsessed' boy loses appeal
[Photo: The girl was seriously injured when she fell from Aberystwyth jetty]

A teenage boy convicted of attempting to aid and abet his 14-year-old girlfriend's suicide bid has lost an appeal against his conviction.

The boy, who cannot be named, was 15 and said to be obsessed with death and suicide when he persuaded her to jump off a jetty in Aberystwyth in 2002.

A judge at the Court of Appeal rejected a claim that evidence of his morbid fascinations had prejudiced the jury.

The boy had been sentenced to a strict three-year supervision order.

The prosecution at the boy's trial at Swansea Crown Court in June 2002 said he had tried to "force" his unwilling girlfriend to jump into the sea.

Only quick medical attention saved her life after her fall onto the rocks below left her in a coma.

'Lurid claims'

The girl testified during the case that her boyfriend was "preoccupied with death" and the last thing she remembered was his hand on her back as she hung over the edge.

She also told the court that he had thrown one of her boots into the sea before telling her, "fetch".

She had denied wanting to kill herself but Anthony Jennings, QC, for the boy, said she had written "I hate myself and want to die" in a notebook.

Mr Jennings told the appeal court that evidence the boy was obsessed with Satan and fascinated with mass murderer Charles Manson - produced by the prosecution in the original trial - was "background evidence".

He said these "lurid claims" should have been excluded by the trial judge because of its inevitable prejudicial impact on the jury.


Although the QC accepted some material was relevant to the context of the allegations and indicated motive, "there must be a limit" to what the jurors heard.

Mr Jennings said that the boy's alleged obsessions with Satanism were irrelevant and could have been indications of "adolescent affectation".

He also told the court that the trial judge's failure to give the jury a firm warning about how to treat the "lurid background evidence" meant the boy did not receive a fair trial.

The girl's statement that she had no intention of killing herself also made the conviction unsafe, the court heard, because the boy could not have been properly charged with attempting to aid and abet the suicide bid.

But Lord Justice Rix, sitting with Mr Justice Holman and Sir Michael Wright, dismissed the appeal, saying the court would give reasons for its decision Monday.

The boy now lives in Bristol - 200 miles from Aberystwyth - as part of his supervision order, and is not allowed to return to Wales.
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