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Trial court’s order acquitting beach worker in Scarlett case was based on surmises: HC

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Panaji: The Bombay High Court at Goa in its verdict convicting a beach shack worker  in connection with the death of British teenager Scarlett Eden Keeling has ordered that the lower court’s order to acquit him was “based on surmises and conjectures.”

The High court bench comprising Justice R D Dhanuka and Justice Prithviraj Chavan, last week, had reverted the decision of Goa Children’s Court to acquit Samson D’Souza.

The detailed order which his uploaded on the website of the High Court on Monday has said that “the order (of lower court) was a result of improper appreciation of evidence and is capricious.”

“The conclusions are contrary to the evidence on record. The judgment is based on surmises and conjectures,” the order reads.

“The learned Trial Court has ignored cogent, trustworthy and reliable evidence of the witnesses coupled with medical evidence which corroborates the fact that the victim was under the influence of narcotic drugs and alcohol,” the bench said.

Scarlett’s bruised semi nude corpse was found on February 18, 2008 at Anjuna beach after which two men were charge-sheeted.

The High Court bench has said that the acquittal of D’Souza was “miscarriage of justice.”

“The learned Trial Court has also ignored the bruises noticed by the medical expert below the knees that is on the shin and other parts of the body. There is indeed a miscarriage of justice,” the order reads.

“The view taken by the learned Trial Court is an impossible view in the given set of facts and circumstances. We have, therefore, reappreciated and reviewed the entire evidence on record and constrained to take a different view,” the order adds.

“Decision of the learned Trial Court will have to be reversed to meet the ends of justice. We are conscious of the fact that there is presumption of innocence in favour of the respondent. However, there is absolutely no scope of any doubt creeping in, in the light of the discussion made herein above,” the Bench has said, in a landmark judgment which ended eleven year old case.

The bench ruled that there is no scope for any reasonable grounds to conclude about the innocence of D’Souza.

“All the circumstances from which the conclusion of the guilt of D’Souza  is drawn, have been fully established,” it reads.

The high court convicted D’Souza under IPC Sections 328 (for administrating drugs), 354 (outraging woman’s modesty), 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence) and for child abuse under section 8(2) of the Goa Children’s Act.

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