Teen guilty of rape and murder of schoolgirl in Wolverhampton’s West Park
A 16-year-old boy, known to social services and NHS mental health workers, has been found guilty of the rape and murder of a schoolgirl at Wolverhampton’s West Park, following a trial at Wolverhampton Crown Court.
The court heard the teen, who cannot be named for legal reasons, entered into a frenzied rage on April 11, after the underage schoolgirl refused to have anal sex with him. He proceeded to rape her, then batter her 21 times with a hammer-like weapon before leaving her for dead.
Three of the girl’s teeth were found knocked out, her skull was fractured, she suffered broken facial bones and a fractured spine. He dragged her body 150 metres after the attack and slumped it on a park bench.
She was discovered by a dog walker at 7am the following morning (Apr 12), who believed the half naked body was a blow-up doll.
“He entered into a frenzied rage”
The trial revealed the schoolgirl had agreed to meet the 16-year-old at midnight at a pavilion in West Park, Wolverhampton, following conversations on Facebook messenger. The teen told her it was where “all the gangsters hang out”. They agreed to “smoke weed and talk”.
Viktorija was not allowed out after 9pm. The boy suggested she should sneak out. CCTV established Viktorija leaving the house and heading towards West Park where she thought she was meeting a friend – a friend who would ultimately go on to viciously rape and kill her.
Detective Inspector Caroline Corfield, from the force’s homicide unit, said:
“It was clear that the scene of Viktorija’s attack was a large wooden pavilion near to the boating lake, known locally as the ‘black house’. Her blood-stained baseball cap and earrings were found there and also, horrifically, three of her teeth which points to the violence of the attack. Her body had then been dragged to a bench some 150 metres away, where she was found.
“We also found footprints in Viktorija’s blood on the floor in the pavilion, the pattern of which were identified as those of Adidas Gazelle trainers, the same footwear later seen worn by Viktorija’s killer as he walked to and from the park.
“Following the murder the teenager immediately set about destroying any evidence which would link him to Viktorija. He threw her phone across the duck pond in the park, concealed the mobile phone he used to contact her behind a wardrobe at his home address and deleted all messages between himself and Viktorija.
“He researched how to permanently delete a Facebook account from an iPhone and disposed of the footwear and clothing he wore to the park that night. This was all done before the discovery of Viktorija’s body.”
The teen, born in Holland to parents from Iraq and home schooled in Wolverhampton, was arrested within two days by West Midlands Police, following the discovery of the girl’s body. He gave a no comment interview, however, did provide a prepared statement. It read “know nothing about the murder. Only heard about it on news.” He was charged with rape, murder and sexual penetration of a corpse.
(The Crown could not prove his guilt beyond all reasonable doubt of the charge of raping a dead body and Mr Justice Jeremy Baker advised the jury to return not guilty verdicts on this charge on that basis.)
He was remanded in custody and appeared at Dudley Magistrates Court where he was remanded by to appear at Wolverhampton Crown Court where he was formally indicted.
He did not give evidence at his trial. The prosecution argued that “he knew he would not be able to withstand cross-examination questioning and would be found out to be a liar”.
“A violent, porn obsessed teen killer”
The court heard, the boy’s mobile phone remained switched off in the early hours of the morning. Further examination of his phone established the teen had an interest in anal sex. There were search terms in the phone’s history for how to permanently delete a Facebook account hours following Viktorija’s murder.
Journalists are appealing the judge’s decision to keep his identity restricted from being reported.
Viktorija moved to Wolverhampton from Lithuania in 2011. The jury were made aware that she had a “turbulent relationship” with her parents and social services knew she often disappeared from home. She was sent to Northern Ireland to live with her biological father for a while, but “it didn’t work out”. She briefly attended a children’s home before moving back in with her mother.
During the trial the defence argued the mother and stepfather were to blame for her murder, after traces of the step-father’s DNA were found in Viktorija’s underwear. However, the forensic expert confirmed this could have been passed on by “innocent transfer”, considering this was only “trace levels” and they lived in the same house, using the same washing basket for dirty laundry. Officers never arrested him on this basis.
Asked if he ever sexually assaulted Viktorija, he said: “this is nonsense – I completely deny this. She is my daughter I would never hurt her.”
On the launch of the serious case review, Linda Sanders, Independent Chair of Wolverhampton Safeguarding Children Board, said:
“This was an horrific crime and our thoughts are with the family and friends of Viktorija Sokolova.
“Wolverhampton Safeguarding Children Board is currently undertaking a multi-agency Serious Case Review which is looking at what involvement, if any, local agencies had with Viktorija and her family, and is seeking to establish whether any lessons can be learned which may improve the way they address potential risks to other children in the future.
“It is planned that the Serious Case Review will be published next year.”
Jason Corden-Bowen, from the CPS, said:
“Viktorija Sokolova was a young girl with her whole future ahead of her but her life was cut short by this defendant who murdered her in an apparently motiveless and brutal attack.
“The defendant denied the offences but the CPS presented evidence to the jury, including forensic evidence, which proved he was responsible.
“I would like to express my sympathy to Viktorija’s family and loved ones’.
The teen was remanded in custody for sentencing on February 22 2019, where he faces an inevitable life sentence for the conviction on indictment of murder and rape by trial.